Use of cloud computing increasing, despite privacy concerns

Pew Internet and American Life project released a new study revealing that 69% of online Americans rely on “cloud computing” for many of their communication and productivity needs, including web-based email, online data storage and file sharing, or software programs such as word processing applications whose functionality is located on the web.

At the same time, 68 percent of cloud computing users said that they would be “very” concerned, and another 19 percent at least “somewhat” concerned, if their personal data were analyzed to provide targeted advertising. Yet, of course, this is precisely what many cloud computing services do. For example, Gmail targets ads based on the data within a user’s incoming e-mail.

The challenge continues to be how to bring these into alignment. We need to (a) educate users as to the actual data collection and usage practices of the services they use, (b) design cloud computing tools to align with user expectations and concerns.

The full report is here (PDF).

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