the law of the cloud

mobilemeAppleInsider’s Prince Mclean is publishing an awesome set of analysis on Apple’s new MobileMe service. He’s doing a great review of the various technical and business issues that are evolving as a result of Apple’s pioneering efforts.

One important aspect he’s not covering, unfortunately, is the legal aspect of Apple’s cloud, or of remote data storage in general.

America’s infamous Patriot Act and other anti-terrorism legislation cast a dark shadows over who owns and controls data stored in the cloud. As Apple largely stores cloud data in its US-based data centres, that means MobileMe users’ personal data and information is liable to access by the American government without notification.

That shadow is largely inescapable for US citizens. Likewise, non-US citizens who choose to engage with MobileMe are generally forfeiting their data rights to the laws of a foreign government. Netizens from other countries, however, can choose how their data is controlled and who may access it by opting out of services like MobileMe. 

Despite the technical and business advantages of the cloud, the issue of legal control and access may be the defining one for this evolving new data storage methodology.