Dropbox – enough is enough


I used to love Dropbox. I own multiple machines and dual boot them, so a convenient way to share files was a big win, and Dropbox delivered on it. They have a seamless Windows and Mac OS X client.

Recently, they had a few security issues – that sucks, but it seems to have been a genuine mistake rather than gross incompetence (like storing cleartext passwords like other did), so I gave them another chance.

But then they crossed the line that no company may ever cross: Taking ownership of your data. TwitPic tried to do that. Adobe tried to do that. And now Dropbox does as well, by adding this to their terms of use:

By submitting your stuff to the Services, you grant us (and those we work with to provide the Services) worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free, sublicenseable rights to use, copy, distribute, prepare derivative works (such as translations or format conversions) of, perform, or publicly display that stuff to the extent we think it necessary for the Service.

In all three cases, the TOU have been revised, or “clarified” as the vendors put it. But even though I do know about Hanlon's razor, I’m unwilling to believe that it’s always just a mistake or unclear language, but rather an attempt of free services that are in financial struggle because no one buys their premium services and they simply have to make money.

As I’m a free user, I contribute to these struggles because I cost them money without bringing any in, so I’ve just decided to do Dropbox a favor by logging in and clicking the “Delete my account” link at the bottom of the account settings.

As a User, always remember that in the moment you give your data to any website – be it a hosted blog, a social network, a sharing site, “the cloud” – you have lost a great deal of control over it and have to be vigilant about TOU changes and companies taking advantage of your data for monetary or other reasons.

Choose wisely, and remember that there is always an alternative company that didn’t try to pull a trick like that (yet).

Comments (1)

Dillie-OJuly 6th, 2011 at 18:39

If you're looking for an alternative, I just stumbled upon SugarSync and it seems to have a lot of nifty features, plus a 5GB free account. I like how it filters some of your music and photos out for you, and allows you to easily share folders with a limited group of folks.

With a slightly shameless plug, I'll get a few bonus space if you join up from here.