You could be signing over more than you bargained for with cloud services

2 min read MSPs
End users’ failure to understand the T&Cs of cloud provision damages their copyright protection

The increasing simplicity and convenience with which end-users can procure cloud services on a pay-per-use basis mean many are not reading the small print; leaving them wide open to a loss of control over how their data is used, according to António Miguel Ferreira, CEO of Lunacloud.

Many cloud providers – including Amazon AWS and Google Drive - contain clauses in their terms and conditions (T&Cs) giving them the right to use data stored with them.

António Miguel Ferreira, Co-Founder and CEO of Lunacloud stated “Almost everyone who has made an online purchase can probably admit that they have checked a ‘I have read the T&Cs’ box without actually doing so. However, in business this is a critical error, unless you genuinely trust your provider.

Data stored within the cloud is extremely valuable, with much of our modern economy relying on copyright and intellectual property protections. It is wholly inappropriate and unreasonable for cloud providers to claim any rights over data stored on their servers. We see data as belonging to the customer, and our responsibility is to run the platforms on which the data and applications reside – the two areas are clearly distinct.”

The lack of contractual commitment inferred in the pay-per-use model, combined with the speed that many can access cloud services online, leads many end-users to not consider the T&Cs as particularly important. While it is true that pay-per-use makes it easier to dump a cloud provider, what many do not realise is that they may have given the provider the right to use the data stored.

The T&Cs for Google Drive state that ‘When you upload or otherwise submit content to our Services, you give Google (and those we work with) a worldwide license to use, host, store, reproduce, modify, create derivative works (such as those resulting from translations, adaptations or other changes that we make so that your content works better with our Services), communicate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute such content.’

Amazon AWS presents similar terms, stating: ‘You consent to our use of Your Content to provide the Service Offerings to you and any End Users. We may disclose Your Content to provide the Service Offerings to you or any End Users or to comply with any request of a governmental or regulatory body (including subpoenas or court orders).’

António explains; “At the very least there is significant ambiguity over copyright issues and data storage with many cloud service providers. Copyright is too precious for there to be non-specific clauses that open the door to cloud suppliers being able to use the data stored by their customers.”

In comparison, Lunacloud’s T&Cs clearly state that ‘Each party acknowledges that it will have access to certain confidential information of the other ?party. Each party agrees that it will not use in any way, for its own account or the account of any third party, except as expressly permitted by this Agreement, nor disclose to any third party (except as required by law or to that party’s attorneys, accountants and other advisors as reasonably necessary to carry out the purposes of this Agreement), any of the other party's Confidential Information and will take reasonable precautions to protect the confidentiality of such information.’

António concluded, “We believe that simplicity, flexibility and speed are the cornerstones of a cloud service and that there is absolute transparency for the end-user as to what they are signing up for. I urge organisations who value the data they store in the cloud to check the T&Cs thoroughly before making any decision to go with a certain provider.”