Last week, in association with the release of Microsoft Office 365, I asked a simple poll question: Is it practical to run your business via online subscription services? After seeing this article from Zack Whittaker over on sister-site ZDNet, "Microsoft Admits Patriot Act Can Access EU-based Cloud Data," I am wondering if I should have asked about data security.
I am not trying to be an alarmist. After all, it is a fact that your data can be accessed by government agencies exercising appropriate authority at any time, whether it is in the cloud or in your basement server room. For cloud users, the difference is in the "knowing" your data is compromised.
When the FBI shows up at your door, flashes a warrant in your face, and then removes servers (not always the correct ones) from the premises, you will notice. In the cloud, unless your service provider shares the information, you may never know. This gets complicated because the rules about such things can be very different depending on the nation where the data resides and the nation where the service provider resides.
So, I guess the moral to all this back and forth is that your data is not absolutely safe no matter where it is. Not a very comforting thought, is it? Is that just a fact of life that we all have to learn to accept?
Mark Kaelin is a CBS Interactive Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He is the host for the Microsoft Windows and Office blog, the Google in the Enterprise blog, the Five Apps blog and the Big Data Analytics blog.