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  • Unintended benefit (shortcoming?) of cloud computing: helping catch criminals


    Wired magazine has an interesting article about an interested application of cloud computing. They tell the story of an investigation that led to the arrest of a pair of alleged spammers. It seems the accused were suspected of using Google to store their data:

    From Beers’ account, the FBI got a spreadsheet titled “Pulse_weekly_Report Q-3 2008″ that showed the firm spammed 3,082,097 e-mail addresses in a single five-hour spree. Another spreadsheet, “Yahoo_Hotmail_Gmail - IDs,” listed 8,000 Yahoo webmail accounts the men allegedly created to push out their spam. The Yahoo accounts were established using false information, allegedly in violation of the CAN SPAM Act.

    It is very interesting how cloud computing allows the authorities easier access to potentially criminal data. But this case also illustrates the concerns some people have over privacy.

    In pursuing this investigation, the police got a warrant before seizing the data in question. But under US law, they didn't need to -- a 1986 law allows them to seize data if they have "reasonable grounds" to believe it will be useful in an investigation.

    The law apparently hasn't caught up with the technology. Should we be concerned as cloud computing becomes more widespread? Or should only criminal be worried? Comment below to tell us what you think!

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