It's 10 O'clock. Do You Know Where Your Data Are?
Your issue of Feb. 14 contains two contradictory articles, "Privacy: Outrage on the Web" (News: Analysis & Commentary) and "Park your files on the Net" (Business Week Lifestyle). The first contains a welcome discussion of many privacy issues; the second is a virtual instruction manual on how to throw privacy straight out the window. It suggests that one can store sensitive information in strangers' databases, and it completely ignores the privacy issues discussed in the first piece.
I store my data very securely on high-density CD-ROMs that cost almost nothing. I can scatter-store multiple copies in several different directions at once. Only I know where they are, and only I can access them. I do not at all mind "lugging a laptop home from the office." My palmtop tucks away in one pocket, and a portable CD-ROM drive almost loses itself in the other. That is all the storage I need.
If remote data storage were my only option, I would insist that the company allow me to test their system by storing a secret file and hiring, with their full knowledge, a "hacker" to access that file. And, if distant data storers should just happen to, even unwittingly, be used by criminal money launderers, action by law-enforcement agencies could go way off the Richter scale, and all of their customers' data will be searched.
Frank S. Colligan