Backing up to ‘the cloud’ means data is more easily available to authorities

Grazed from BDLive. Author: Jack Nicas.

While the increasing use of encryption helps smartphone users protect their data, another sometime-related technology, cloud computing, can undermine those protections. The reason: encryption can keep certain smartphone data outside the reach of law enforcement. But once the data is uploaded to companies’ computers connected to the internet — referred to as "the cloud" — it may be available to authorities with court orders.

Major cloud-computing suppliers, including smartphone providers such as Alphabet ’s Google, Microsoft and Apple, routinely comply with court orders and search warrants to turn over data that in many cases would have been harder for law enforcement to obtain had users kept it solely on their devices...

"The safest place to keep your data is on a device that you have next to you," said Marc Rotenberg, head of the Electronic Privacy Information Center. "You take a bit of a risk when you back up your device. Once you do that it’s on another server." Encryption and cloud computing "are two competing trends", Mr Rotenberg said. "The movement to the cloud has created new privacy risks for users and businesses...

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