Amazon Cloud Drive – No file sharing, no privacy

At first, I got excited by the new Amazon Cloud Drive service. Who wouldn’t? You get 5GB of free space, plus the ability to upload a single file that could be as big as 2GB for FREE is a great deal. Knowing that the service is built on top of Amazon S3 and its other cloud computing infrastructure, you’d know for certain that Cloud Drive would be robust and reliable.

Amazon Cloud Drive
Streaming music is cool, but not being able to share files? Uncool.

However, there are two crucial features that stopped me from completely switching over to Amazon Cloud Drive: the lack of file sharing ability and the loss of your rights to privacy.

Being able to stream Amazon MP3 purchases to any PC or an Android phone is nice. Amazon even beat Apple and Google to the punch with offering a cloud-based music streaming service with Cloud Drive. But for the rest of who are not US residents Cloud Drive is doesn’t offer anything new, it doesn’t even offer one basic feature common to other cloud-based file locker services: the ability to share files.

This is probably tied up with the way Amazon has setup Cloud Drive in order to combat piracy; users give up their rights to privacy over the files, the MP3s specifically, they store in the service. It’s all spelled out in the Amazon Cloud Drive Terms of Service:

5.2 Our Right to Access Your Files. You give us the right to access, retain, use and disclose your account information and Your Files: to provide you with technical support and address technical issues; to investigate compliance with the terms of this Agreement, enforce the terms of this Agreement and protect the Service and its users from fraud or security threats; or as we determine is necessary to provide the Service or comply with applicable law

That essentially allows Amazon or a third-party to take a look at your files, again especially your MP3s, to see if it is pirated or not. Don’t be naive that Amazon will ‘do no evil’ and protect you, under the above quoted clause of the Tos, a simple subpoena from, say the RIAA, will be enough for them to hand over your files.

And just like that my enthusiasm for Amazon Cloud Drive has gone south. You can’t share files to your friends, colleagues etc and you have ‘Big brother’ inspecting them. I guess it’s still a wiser move to keep your music and files and just regularly backup to portable storage devices.

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