A question that isn’t asked often because we think we already know the answer is this, “Who owns your iCloud data?” The initial answer is the most common. “It’s my data. I own it.” OK, if it’s our data, and I agree with you, it is, then why do governments have so much easy access to it?
Of Criminals And Courts
For those of us using iCloud on our Apple devices in the U.S., there’s a very good chance that all our personally stored information is kept safe and secure by Apple (possibly on Microsoft’s cloud storage, perhaps Amazon, maybe Google or IBM; but somewhere out there where we can get it when we want it).
Safe and secure? Think again. Courts have access to pretty much whatever they want; your Mac or PC, your iPhone or Android smartphone. A few years ago, Microsoft was asked by a court to turn over customer data that was stored in a foreign country. Microsoft refused. It took a few years of court wrangling, with wins and loses on both sides, but it’s safe to say the issue isn’t settled yet.
Just recently the F.B.I. told Google to turn over customer data that was, again, stored in a foreign country. Google refused and another court session was initiated. To the judge in the case, it didn’t matter where the data was stored, Google could get it with ease, and that’s all that mattered.
Anybody see a problem here and where it might lead?
Thanks to precedents set by U.S. courts, let’s say a Chinese court or a Russian judge decides that their court needs to see your iCloud data stored here in the U.S. What then? If Google and Microsoft were compelled by a U.S. court to turn over data stored in another country, would they cough up data stored in the U.S. if asked to by a foreign court system?
What I Want From Apple
All solutions to this quagmire are easier said than done, but I want Apple– the world’s premier purveyor of fine quality hardware and integrated software– to ensure that even if forced to turn over data by a local or foreign authority or court, that my data is fully encrypted, and I remain the only human on planet earth who can gain access to the data, decrypt the data, and make it available to anyone else– at my choosing.
What can Apple do to ensure that whatever data I store on iCloud is owned fully by me, accessible only by me, and available for download only at my command?
Yes, there are logistic issues here, let alone the legal mumbo jumbo, but the data on iCloud (or, Microsoft OneDrive, or Google Drive or Dropbox or wherever) is mine. I own it. I put it there. I want to be the only one allowed to upload and download that data, and whenever I choose to do so.
Is that even feasible? Technologically possible, yes. But feasible? I think so. And based upon events as they’re playing out in the U.S. court system and abroad, that’s a solution I’m willing to pay for, or, in the case of iCloud, pay more for a device that gives me that exact solution.
It’s my data. I own it. I want to control it, too.