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Canonical releases Ubuntu One for Android devices

Claims that it doesn't look at users' files
Thu Jun 30 2011, 18:11

LINUX VENDOR Canonical has brought its cloud storage that it calls Ubuntu One to Android devices, saying that in order to stream files, it stores them as plain text.

Canonical's Ubuntu One cloud storage service had previously been available from the outfit's Ubuntu Linux distribution, however with the arrival of Ubuntu One Files on Android, users can access the service on both PCs running Ubuntu and Android devices. The free service offers 2GB of storage space and does not need a PC to operate.

Given the recent controversies surrounding Dropbox, a similar cloud storage application that lets you share data between PCs and mobile devices, The INQUIRER asked Cristian Parrino, VP of online services at Canonical what steps the firm has taken to ensure that users' data remains private and the answer seems to depend on whether they want to stream the data to devices or not.

Parrino told The INQUIRER, "Ubuntu One secures the transmission between servers and clients by using both SSL and secure certificates. We do not encrypt user files in the personal cloud, since that would prevent us from delivering core services such as sharing and streaming. Users may, however, sync already encrypted content to Ubuntu One should they choose to - that content would not be available for sharing and streaming." Parrino also pointed out that Ubuntu One's security policy can be found on its wiki web site.

When Apple announced its Icloud service, we wondered whether it was a way for users to upload illegitimate music files and stream them to multiple devices. Given that Ubuntu One Files can also stream music to devices, we asked Parrino whether its service could become a data locker for unlicensed music, but it seems Canonical will be taking users at their word rather than rummage through its users' accounts' contents.

"We do not monitor what people store in their personal clouds. Each person that signs up to Ubuntu One must agree to the legally binding terms and conditions, which clearly outline our acceptable use and conduct policy. The terms forbid illegal use of Ubuntu One for activity that is libellous or defamatory, that contains threats or incites violence towards individuals or entities, or that violates the privacy or publicity rights of any third party. Ubuntu One services allow users to store data on Canonical's servers, but this data can not be in breach of any applicable law and or any individual's data protection or privacy rights," said Parrino.

As for whether Canonical had come across the widely reported problems of dealing with the music industry over being able to stream music to multiple devices, Parrino said no. This could be a sign that perhaps the music industry is learning that it can't continue to act as a bully against firms that want to try and increase the value of purchasing music rather than downloading it for free.

Canonical's statement that it does not monitor what Ubuntu One users do is likely to be welcomed by users, however it is still prudent to encrypt data that ends up on another company's servers. µ


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