The (Dark) Convenience of the Cloud

Here's a reminder about the potentially weak legal privacy protections for email and other information sent or stored online in the cloud computing paradigm.

I focus on a James Fallows piece, as opposed to one of the legal blog posts on the topic
(ht/CA) as of late, because I think his concerns about the lack of privacy online represent the most important factor in the discussion - the policy concerns needs to begin informing the law in this area.  I'd venture that a significant portion of the American public believes it has a "reasonable expectation of privacy" in the contents of its email accounts.

The proliferation of activity online - banking, shopping with credit cards, filing taxes, filling out forms with private information, etc. - has convinced people, I think, that there is a minimum level of security in play on the internet with well-known third party entities (like one's email provider), even in the face of the maxim and reality that nothing is truly safe on the internet.  And despite creepy, overly-tailored ads that pop up atop one's Gmail inbox...

ADDED: More on the national defense risks of cloud computing appeared on CNN's site today (ht/RGT).