Ethics On The Cloud
Ethics and morality have always been dictated by culture and the times. It takes on different forms and their forms from different places and time periods often contradict each other, and what is considered ethical or moral in one era may not be in another. The World Wide Web, and now more recently the move to Cloud Computing and the social revolution is changing the norms of our world’s cultures and ethics and morality along with it.
Just a decade ago it was very unethical to read someone else’s letter, it still is, but the medium of transportation and consumption has changed so much that it has become a little hard to define. Before, it was only between you and the mailman, and he was bound by law to never touch the contents of what he delivers. But in today’s Cloud environments there are no such laws and standards so companies are free to make their own. And as it stands what they write in the agreement which the user consequently agrees to because they can’t avail of the service otherwise, becomes bounded by law. This has a very big potential to become fraud which in this case is actually legal because of the agreement and in my opinion is very unethical. This doesn’t actually mean that it happens, that service providers actually do that, it’s just that it is entirely possible for them to do so and there is not a lot anybody could do when that happens. There is also the problem of accountability and ownership. When something bad happens to the data being stored in the cloud, who can be held responsible, is it the provider for being lenient or the user who was too lenient? And who actually owns the data now that it’s on the Cloud, is it the original owner or the owner of the infrastructure on which it is stored in? This actually raises so many questions with very few answers as of this moment. But this should not dissuade us from making use of Cloud Computing as the benefits most definitely outweigh the negative issues I have discussed.
There is, however, a one-shot-kill-all solution for this and that is to have a unified governing body create and impose a unified standard that would answer all of these concerns once and for all. How to go about doing that is an entirely different story which is still a long way from being finished. There are some studies and papers written on this subject matter.
By Abdul Salam
He has recently co-authored: Deploying and Managing a Cloud Infrastructure: Real-World Skills for the CompTIA Cloud+ Certification (Wiley).