Cloud computing takes hold despite privacy fears
Users of online e-mail, storage systems fear the sale of personal data without permission
Computerworld - As consumers flock to the cloud computing world to store photos online, back up hard drives or use Web-based e-mail, many harbor worries about the security of that personal data, according to a study released late last week from the Pew Internet & American Life project.
The study found that 69% of online users use Web e-mail services, store data online or use Web-based applications like Google Docs.
Breaking cloud computing use down further, the survey found the following:
- 56% of online users use Web e-mail services like Hotmail or Gmail.
- 34% store photos online.
- 29% use online applications like Google Docs or Adobe Photoshop Express.
- 7% store personal videos online.
- 5% store computer files online.
- 5% back up hard drives online.
More than half (51%) of the active cloud computing users say they turned to the technology because it's easy and convenient, while 41% said they like being able to access their data from multiple computers.
Despite those advantages, the survey found the following:
- 90% of cloud application users fear the sale of their personal data.
- 80% are concerned that their photos or other data may be used in marketing campaigns.
- 68% do not want companies to display specific ads based on an analysis of their online actions.
"Even as large numbers of users turn to 'cloud computing' applications, many may lack a full understanding of possible consequences of storing personal data online," said John Horrigan, associate director of the Pew Internet & American Life Project and author of the report, in a statement. "These findings give consumers, the technology community and policymakers a chance to discuss the trade-offs between convenience and privacy and figure out where there are needs for education to improve public understanding."
Pew surveyed 2,251 adults in April and May; of those, 1,553 were Internet users.
Read more about Cloud Computing in Computerworld's Cloud Computing Topic Center.
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