As more and more computing moves off our PCs and into “the Cloud,” Internet users are gaining access to a wealth of new software-based services that can exploit vast computing capacity and memory storage. That’s wonderful. But what about our freedom to create and share things as we wish, free from corporate or government surveillance or over-reaching copyright enforcement? The real danger of the Cloud is its potential to limit how we may create and share what we want, on our terms.
There are already signs that large corporations like Google, Facebook, Twitter and all the rest will quietly warp the design architecture of the Internet to serve their business interests first. A terrific overview of the troubling issues raised by the Cloud can be found in the essay, “The Cloud: Boundless Digital Potential or Enclosure 3.0,” by David Lametti, a law professor at McGill University, and published by the Virginia Journal of Law & Technology. An earlier version is available at the SSRN website.
Lametti states his thesis simply: “I argue that the Cloud, unless monitored and possibly directed, has the potential to go beyond undermining copyright and the public domain – Enclosure 2.0 – and to go beyond weakening privacy. This round, which I call “Enclosure 3.0”, has the potential to disempower Internet users and conversely empower a very small group of gatekeepers. Put bluntly, it has the potential to relegate Internet users to the status of digital sheep.”