A Geek With Guns

Chronicling the depravities of the State.

This is Why You Shouldn’t Rely on Third Party Services

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There have been a few stories lately about people getting booted out of Google’s Google+ service. I haven’t covered it because I honestly don’t give a shit, that is until now. A Google likes to tie all of their services to your Google account it is possible for you to get booted from all of your Google services if they decided to kick you off of Google+, and that’s what apparently happened to one person:

Marcheschi had the last seven years of his digital life stored on various Google services, and he lost access to all of it two weeks ago when Google mysteriously killed his account and refused to tell him why.

Two days ago, as public pressure on Google to explain itself mounted, Marcheschi found out why. A Google bot that automatically scans Picasa for illegal images flagged something Marcheschi had posted as child pornography. And that was all she wrote – goodbye Gmail, Blogger, Calendar, Docs, photos, and all the rest.

It turns out that the image he posted, though admittedly disturbing, was not technically porn. In fact, he says his reason for posting the image – to a collection he curated called “The Evolution of Sex” — was to make a point about how you can post images of minors being sexualized without breaking any laws. (Marcheschi says Google deleted the image, he has no other copy, and doesn’t remember where he found it on the InterWebs, so there’s no way to judge for yourself.)

Luckily for Marcheschi, a Google human stepped in, determined that Dylan was not a kiddie porn merchant, and turned his account back on.

But what if something similar happened to you, and you weren’t so lucky?

What if you owned an Android phone, which uses your Google ID to access all kinds of data services, and Google killed your account? Would you have a brick in your pocket

Situations like this are why I’ve moved my needed services onto computers I personally control. In the case of Marcheschi an automated bot incorrectly flagged something he posted as illegal and killed his entire Google account. If you’re running an Android phone getting your entire account killed is basically a death sentence for your phone as well.

Android phones backup everything to Google’s services including the applications you’ve purchased, contacts, calendar events, e-mail, etc. You would lose all records of every application you purchased from the Android Market meaning you’d have to repurchase them all again. Basically you’d have to start from square one again as the phone is unable to make backups to local machines.

Relying heavily on third party services is a dangerous endeavor. If that services goes away or kicks you off you lose everything that was dependent on that service. This nice thing about my iPhone is that I can tie it to my self-hosted services meaning if Apple every killed my iTunes account I’d still have all of my personal information safely stored on my server safe and sound. This is why I want CalDAV and CardDAV support in Android so badly, at least then I wouldn’t have to rely on Google’s services to sync and keep my personal information.

Either way this should be a lesson as to why it’s best to do it yourself (not just in technology but in anything you possibly can).

Written by Christopher Burg

July 29th, 2011 at 12:00 pm

Posted in Technology

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