Norwegians Consider Homegrown Data Storage

Photo : Susan Melkisethian;. Rally and March in Washington DC Against Mass Surveillance, October 26, 2013

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A
small revolution has developed encouraging the use of homegrown data
storage and email companies like Norwegian start up JottaCloud. This
comes amidst the controversy surrounding the leaked information
provided by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, which raised
concerns about the security of data in the hands of US owned
companies. 

“It
was a concept that started in 2001 when they changed the patriot act,
in the US you no longer needed a warrant to get information,”
says CEO and founder of JottaCloud Roland Rabben. 

“In
Norway you need a court order before you can access that type of
information, so there is some assuredness when it comes to your data.
You can’t blame the US companies, they are just doing their job, but
the problem is the scale they are on, Facebook and Google, these are
huge companies, they are operating in the US legal system and need to
cooperate with the government.”

The
facts brought to light by Snowden about what is being called the
’Prism’ program, indicate that the NSA has easy access to large
amounts of stored data and international communications. Records of
these communications, along with personal information and other data
are being kept in a large archive that is searchable by certain NSA
employees, like Mr Snowden, under certain circumstances. The
searchable archive is simply known as ’Prism.’

As
more and more information is being moved to the cloud from around the
world, more responsibility lies with cloud based companies to
protect the privacy of their customers. This has become a challenge
considering the nature of the legal system they operate in. Companies
like Dropbox, Google, Evernote and Microsoft, cooperate closely with
the US government on a regular basis, but the manner in which the
NSA, FBI and CIA can access personal information with ease has been
previously unknown.  

Amongst
other things, Snowden’s leaks reveal that the FBI in cooperation with
Microsoft gained easier access via Prism to Microsoft’s Skydrive
online storage service, a product that now has 250 million users
worldwide. According to Mr Rabben, this is an issue that is
growing in significance.

“It
has become even more relevant since the Prism program, it revealed
that the NSA is storing data on a large scale and that information is
searchable. There is a discussion of freedom and necessity, freedom
often means freedom from surveillance, I think that’s an important
issue.”

It
is not unusual for large companies or governments to make mistakes,
leaving personal data vulnerable. For instance, large amounts of
user information maintained by technology giant Sony, for its
Playstation devices was stolen by hackers in 2011. Then there was the
National Health Service in Britain losing track of 1.8 million
patient records, which patients assumed would be kept private in
2012.

As
the way in which we interact with the internet continues to develop,
a greater emphasis on data security is becoming more important. Who
is responsible for your information, where is it being stored and
what they are doing to safeguard it is now part of the decision
making process when choosing an online storage or email provider.
This is why people from all over, not just Norwegians, are
considering Norway a data ‘safe haven.’ Who’s looking after
your data?

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