Millions of Americans are increasingly putting personal information, family photos and documents in the public cloud through Gmail, Flickr and Facebook and may not realize the problems that could present.
That's according to the Consumer Federation of America which has just released a new report listing best practices for individuals using those services.
The report said businesses and government agencies also are using cloud computer services, which store data on remote servers and make them accessible through the Internet, and that while the benefits are significant-cost and convenience-so are possible problems with consumer protection and privacy.
For instance, consumers could lose their data if the cloud service provider has inadequate procedures or shuts down on short notice, or they may find that contract terms or lack of interoperability make it difficult to move their data from one cloud service to another," the CFA said.
"Consumers may also be unaware that a cloud computing service intends to use their data for marketing purposes or that law enforcement might have access to it without notice to them," the organization said.
The report-"Consumer Protection in Cloud Computing Services: Recommendations for Best Practices from a Consumer Federation of America Retreat on Cloud Computing"-lists a number of best practices it recommends to companies and agencies using the technology, including informing consumers when legally possible that their information has been shared with a third party.
The recommendations come from a two-day retreat the organization held in June with attendees from consumer and privacy organizations, academia, government and business from the United States and Europe.
The recommendations from a two-day retreat the organization held in June with attendees from consumer and privacy organizations, academia, government and business from the United States and Europe.