Pew study: cloud computing popular, privacy worries linger

Via ARS Technica

By Julian Sanchez | Published: September 14, 2008 – 05:55PM CT

A new survey by the Pew Internet and American Life project, released Friday morning at Google’s Washington, DC headquarters, finds cloud computing applications taking off among Internet users. But respondents also told pollsters that they have profound concerns about ways their personal data might be used—among them, the kind of ad-targeting practiced by… Google. As Internet users increasingly find themselves using multiple (potentially incompatible) networked devices to get online from a variety of locations, it should come as little surprise that large numbers of them are availing themselves of “cloud” services that offload computing or data storage functions to someone else’s server, allowing e-mail, photos, or documents to be accessed anywhere. More than half of Internet users have used Web-based e-mail services, which study author John Horrigan called the “starter drug” of cloud computing, while just over a third have stored personal photos on sites like Flickr or Photobucket. Cloud apps like Google Documents and Adobe Photoshop Express were third most popular, with 29 percent of respondents saying they’d used one, while fewer than 10 percent had used Web-based services to store personal videos or back up their hard drives. All told, 69 percent of users had used at least one form of cloud computing; 40 percent had used two or more. For users under 30, those numbers jumped to 87 percent and 59 percent respectively.

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