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Chrome OS encourages 'careless computing' says freeware guru

ChromeOS will force people to risk data in the cloud, says Richard Stallman

Chrome OS encourages 'careless computing' says freeware guru
The Chrome OS will force people to hand over their data to third parties, says Stallman.

Free software guru Richard Stallman has criticized Google;s new Chrome OS, saying that it will "push people into careless computing".

Stallman, the founder of the Free Software Foundation and creator of the GNU OS, told the Guardian newspaper that using cloud computing meant loss of control over data.

The cut-down ChromeOS has been designed for users that spend most of their time on the web, and will typically only run a web browser to access applications in the cloud. The operating system, which is based on GNU/Linux and the open source Chromium OS project, will only run on hardware designed by Google and its partners, which will only store a minimal amount of data locally, pushing the rest to Google's cloud services such as Gmail and Google Docs.

Stallman said that ChromeOS would force users to store data in the cloud, rather than on their own hardware, which could present a risk of losing legal ownership of your own data.

"In the US, you even lose legal rights if you store your data in a company's machines instead of your own. The police need to present you with a search warrant to get your data from you; but if they are stored in a company's server, the police can get it without showing you anything. They may not even have to give the company a search warrant," he said.

"I think that marketers like cloud computing because it is devoid of substantive meaning. The term's meaning is not substance, it's an attitude: ‘Let any Tom, Dick and Harry hold your data, let any Tom, Dick and Harry do your computing for you (and control it).' Perhaps the term ‘careless computing' would suit it better.

"I suppose many people will continue moving towards careless computing, because there's a sucker born every minute. The US government may try to encourage people to place their data where the US government can seize it without showing them a search warrant, rather than in their own property. However, as long as enough of us continue keeping our data under our own control, we can still do so. And we had better do so, or the option may disappear," Stallman added.

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