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Do You Still Own Your Data in the Cloud?

Many users have happily signed up to cloud services since they boomed onto the internet scene. They’re a great way for storing your data, allowing you to access it from wherever you are and share it with others with ease.

However, when it comes to storing your data in the cloud, the question that begs asking is who owns your data? When you are uploading it into the cloud, do these companies now take control of your data or do you still retain full ownership? This article will explore the idea of ownership when it comes to cloud data storage and answer some questions you might have.

First of all, there is no better alternative to reading the terms of service to the provider that you are signing up to. As boring as that might sound, there is no blanket answer that can cover every single cloud storage service out there, which makes reading the terms of service important. You might want to try searching the document for key terms such as “ownership” or “copyright” to find the relevant section. These terms can also be updated at any time, so be sure to make sure that what you originally read holds true if any changes are made.

Generally speaking, you still own your data that you upload into the cloud. The exceptions to this are material that belongs to someone else in the first place or, an even hazier area, data that you create in the cloud.

Looking at the Google Drive terms of service, Google apparently has the right to use your data to improve and promote their own services, along with creating derivative works from the content stored on Drive and then to publically display and distribute that content.

However, this is probably not as damning as it sounds. TechWorld spoke to Michael S. Neustel, a US patent attorney, who said that the majority of cloud services have such terms. It allows them to move the data to different data centres if needs be. The terms specifically state that your data remains yours and that private storage archives will remain exactly as such.

When it comes to storing enterprise data in the cloud, it is highly recommended not to store any personal information, especially pertaining to your customers. Legal files, financial records and customer databases are types of data that should never be stored in the cloud. If the cloud gets breached, it could get complicated over who is actually at fault – the cloud provider or the enterprise.

If looking to store vast amounts of enterprise data, it is useful to draw up a contract with the provider that clearly outlines all ownership details, with help from legal professionals if necessary. Consumer and enterprise data are two very different things; retaining your ownership is equally as important in both situations, but the repercussions from the latter could be much greater.

At the end of the day, the likelihood is that your cloud provider does not own any of your data. However, be sure to know what you are agreeing to before signing up and uploading your files.


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