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Delete should mean Delete!

September 5, 2014

The reasonably tech savvy amongst us have learnt that on our PC delete does not mean delete, it means the file is in the trash and is not deleted until the trash is emptied.  However the really tech savvy know that even then the data is not deleted. Instead the pointer to the file data is removed and so that data looks like its deleted.  The computer then marks the file area on the disk as unused, and eventually it may get overwritten and thus destroyed and thus really deleted.  This is why tools like undelete can recover files you thought you had lost – especially if you undelete soon after you deleted them and emptied the trash.

But the world has moved on – now most of our data is in the cloud.  In theory we’d expect that delete in the cloud works the same as delete on a PC.  WRONG.  It seems that our legal friends allow delete to be used an app function when in fact it does not delete the data at all, not even like on a PC.  Instead, in many cloud systems, all delete means is that the data is no longer visible to you or the other people it was previously visible to.  In fact the data is often a very active part of the cloud system; its in use by the app or service provider still, often so they can use it for analytics, marketing or other money making services.  In short, once the data is shared it effectively belongs to the person you shared it with.  Only those savvy enough to read and understand the legal documents can usually discover this.

So why is this?  The key is ‘ownership’ – while the legal guys often use terms that imply you own data, or even copyright in some cases, what you may not know is that you have also signed up an agreement that states the company whose service you use has an irrevocable agreement with you to use all that data – forever.  What they don’t say in clear terms, which kind of shows their dishonesty – is that you can NEVER delete the data you shared, explicitly or implicitly (the meta-data about how and when you used their service).

This is why we at Krowdthink are striving to give our users true effective ownership of all their data in our social network.


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