Pew survey highlights worries over privacy as well as benefits of cloud computing

Jeremy Phillips

In “Cloud computing takes hold despite privacy fears” Heather Havenstein (Computerworld) 09/15/2008 writes for Networkworld that, although computer users are increasingly making use of ‘cloud computing’, availing themselves of web-based computer software applications packages and storage facilities, many have become increasingly concerned about the security of their personal data, according to a study released late last week from the Pew Internet & American Life project. According to that study

* 69% of online users practised one or more forms of cloud computing;
* 56% use webmail services like Hotmail or Gmail;
* 34% store photos online;
* 29% use online applications like Google Document or Adobe Photoshop Express.

However, the convenience and ease of use has its downside too. According to a spokesman for Pew:

“Even as large numbers of users turn to ‘cloud computing’ applications, many may lack a full understanding of possible consequences of storing personal data online. These findings give consumers, the technology community, and policymakers a chance to discuss the trade offs between convenience and privacy and figure out where there are needs for education to improve public understanding.”

The survey was based on the habits of 2,251 adults interviewed in April and May of 2008; of those, 1,553 were internet users.

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