Or, as TechCrunch's Jason Kincaid asks more specifically, why do we let webmail services delete our data?
Or, as he most aptly put it, since when did our data become a bartering tool for services rendered?
In the post, Kincaid laments the policies of webmail providers, which will remove your data after varying lengths of inactivity (Yahoo, 4 months; Hotmail, 60 days; Gmail, 9 months; and so forth). "Storage is cheap" he says, and it's ridiculous to have such a policy when the same companies are simultaneously throwing gigabyte after megabyte at you to join. (And people are: Gmail grew a whopping 43 percent last year.)
It's a good question. The more space you have on these sites, the more you've got at risk. It's a noose made up of your own correspondence. How's that for the cloud?
Some people fall on one side of the argument, saying that it's certainly reasonable to get rid of an inactive user's data after a certain point (though where to draw that line is a different argument altogether). On the other hand, some people insist that providers should keep their data as long as they're signed up.
Of course, the argument extends beyond webmail. Does the argument change if it's not e-mails...but photos? Or playlists? How about your resume?
Think of the various cloud services: What about Facebook? Flickr? LinkedIn? Last.fm?
When is a reasonable time, if any, that all of your information should be wiped from existence?