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My name is Adam Curry and this section will contain info about me in the future, as soon as I get a few other things done.

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Evil Clouds Permalink.

A picture named angry-clouds.gifI was listening to Dave Winer's podcast this afternoon. This episode focused mainly on his decision to remove his content and stop using Dropbox for his 'systems' due to their recent change of TOS (Terms Of Service)

Of note was his observation that the dropbox service is essentially a high-level interface to Amamzon S3, and that Amazon's TOS should be reviewed in this regard as well. Good point.

So I did.

IANAL, but the main difference in how Dropbox treats ownership of 'Your Stuff' and Amazon treats 'Your Content' is in the clearly stated ownership clauses. (emphasis is mine)


By using our Services you may give us access to your information, files, and folders (together, "your stuff"). You retain ownership to your stuff. You are also solely responsible for your conduct, the content of your files and folders, and your communications with others while using the Services.

We sometimes need your permission to do what you ask us to do with your stuff (for example, hosting, making public, or sharing your files). By submitting your stuff to the Services, you grant us (and those we work with to provide the Services) worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free, sublicenseable rights to use, copy, distribute, prepare derivative works (such as translations or format conversions) of, perform, or publicly display that stuff to the extent reasonably necessary for the Service. This license is solely to enable us to technically administer, display, and operate the Services. You must ensure you have the rights you need to grant us that permission.


8.1 Your Content. As between you and us, you or your licensors own all right, title, and interest in and to Your Content. Except as provided in this Section 8, we obtain no rights under this Agreement from you or your licensors to Your Content, including any related intellectual property rights. You consent to our use of Your Content to provide the Service Offerings to you and any End Users. We may disclose Your Content to provide the Service Offerings to you or any End Users or to comply with any request of a governmental or regulatory body (including subpoenas or court orders).

There are problems with both imho. Where Amazon speaks of 'disclosing' my content in order to provide 'the service', Dropbox is requiring a 'license'. Disclosure sounds much more reasonable than a license. On the other hand, I don't like that Amazion will disclose my content stored on their servers to any government organization, apparently even without a court order or subpoena.

That said, if I have content I don't want the government to see, I shouldn't be putting it on a networked machine in the first place, unless it is enrypted.

So why does Dropbox require a license as a front end to a system that only requires a consent to disclose? I think Dave is correct in assuming Dropbox is going in a direction where they perceive their value in the behaviour and marketability of their users instead of a consumer level enterpirse service that you pay for (as I do).

This is further accentuated in Dropbox's Privacy statement, where dropbox users agree to:

Non-private or Non-Personal Information. We may disclose your non-private, aggregated, or otherwise non-personal information, such as usage statistics of our Service.


Business Transfers. If we are involved in a merger, acquisition, or sale of all or a portion of our assets, your information may be transferred as part of that transaction, but we will notify you (for example, via email and/or a prominent notice on our website) of any change in control or use of your Personal Information or Files, or if either become subject to a different Privacy Policy. We will also notify you of choices you may have regarding the information.

I personally am not keen on my location being tracked without an opt-out:

Geo-Location Information: Some Devices allow applications to access real-time location-based information (for example, GPS). Our mobile apps do not collect such information as of the date this policy went into effect, but may do so in the future with your consent to improve our Services. Some photos you place in Dropbox may contain recorded location information. We may use this information to optimize your experience. Also, some of the information we collect from a Device, for example IP address, can sometimes be used to approximate a Device's location.

I use dropbox in a very specific manner, one that I believe can be replicated with other software and Amazon S3. I'm not moving yet, but when I can replicate my specific functions, I will. It will also save me $99/year.

By the way, even if you delete your account and your files, if anyone else was previously sharing those files with you, it isn't deleted, as clearly stated in the 'Data Retention Clause':

We will retain your information for as long as your account is active or as needed to provide you services. If you wish to cancel your account or request that we no longer use your information to provide you services, you may delete your account here. We may retain and use your information as necessary to comply with our legal obligations, resolve disputes, and enforce our agreements. Consistent with these requirements, we will try to delete your information quickly upon request. Please note, however, that there might be latency in deleting information from our servers and backed-up versions might exist after deletion. In addition, we do not delete from our servers files that you have in common with other users.

© Copyright 1997-2012 Adam Curry. Last build: 5/8/2012; 2:47:22 PM. "There are no secrets, only information you don't yet have"

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