Just like many of you, most of my digital life exists in the cloud. Gmail, Facebook, Twitter, Pandora, Goodreads – you name it. It’s so convenient, it frees me from owning any equipment or learning something as scary as running my own server.

Lately, I’ve been having doubts about this decision.

While many of us discuss the wisdom of sharing data with advertisers (and the questionable benefits for advertisers), recent reports make me wonder if that’s not just a side show. In the good old days, when somebody wanted to get access to any information in my possession, they had to subponae me personally. In this new brave world of cloud computing, they don’t bother with me. They go directly to the companies I’m storing my information with. (And, once in a while, they do the right thing.)More often than not, these companies don’t even inform me of this legal action and share information based on their needs. Not on mine.

Terms of Service protect the company. And keep me vulnerable.

Nobody ever read the “Terms of Service’ of any platform we’re using each and every day. The latest Apple update was more than 50 pages long. Who bothers with that? We’d rather click the “Agree” button and get excited about the newest feature update. That’s human nature. But, when pushing that button we basically give companies the power to share our data based on their ethical standards and the demands of VC’s and Wall Street.

Look, most of us have nothing to fear. We just want to live our lives, make the world a better place and enjoy the time we have left on this earth. But, we should never forget the famous quote from Pastor Martin Niemoeller:

“They came first for the Communists,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew.

Then they came for me
and by that time no one was left to speak up”

There are only two solutions to this problem:

  1. We trust our data to a company that creates a cloud server that protects the rights of the users who store data on it. (Problem is, why would I trust this specific company? What track record would they need to gain mass adoption?)
  2. We own our own data. Just like we own our printed documents. Our diaries. Our thoughts.

I don’t know about you: I vote for the latter.