OK, I've heard a lot a interesting arguments against the idea of moving more in the direction of browser-based computing (even though more and more people are taking delivery of their application functionality through their browsers and from application service providers every day). But most of them I believe are resolvable. But there's one that was raised yesterday by a ZDNet reader that raises a very fair point that I don't have the answer to. Wrote Ken (in response to my piece on Google Browser Sync):
With the government apparently having the ability to scarf up private data without a warrant, or reasonable cause or even a hearing before a judge, I don't want google or yahoo or anyone else storing one byte of data on me that they don't absolutely have to. For this reason I use yahoo and gmail as a last resort. I'm a libertarian political activist (unloved by the government) and gay (unloved by the government) and a Second Amendment activist (unloved by the government). They can surely track my online life if they try but I have no plans to make it easy for them.
So, here's the question. Let's say the only thing standing between the government and your data is your data custodian and your data custodian's lawyers. Who would rather have in those positions? You as the data custodian and your lawyers? Or some ASP as the data custodian and its lawyers. The latter of course only applies if (a) the government asks first before snooping (something it historically hasn't always done, especially recently) and (b) even if the government asks, that doesn't necessarily mean the ASP won't cave without ever bringing its lawyers into play. I have nothing to hide. But then again, moving to a world where everyone's data is readily accessible through the ASPs they've selected is a slippery slope to get on. Tough questions.