Dropbox has posted a public explanation for their rapid TOS changes today. As suspected, the email they’ve gotten from concerned users hasn’t gone unnoticed–that’s a good thing.
Am I now recommending them? Hell no. Assuming the best of intentions, I think they are in error about the kind of license they need to run a data archive service. And, again, assuming the best of intentions, the sorts of rights they’re claiming to run their service are very easily abused–and the folks that run Dropbox today, no matter how honorable they are, will not be running the place forever. Young companies frequently have rapid changes of administration, and in my opinion it’s foolish to put that kind of trust in the goodwill of even the most ethical of service providers. For a more lengthy explanation why, see my post on The Third Cousins Rule.
There is also the underlying problem with free cloud-based data services, which I mentioned briefly in one of the comments on the previous post, but which I should do a full blog post on. Think I’ll schedule that one for next week.
By the way, for the benefit of those who have privately posted flames on the earlier comment thread (which didn’t make it through moderation due to using false email addresses) asking whether I’ve read a TOS, I recommend you check out this thread on Reddit, in which TOS from similar services by Microsoft Skydrive and SpiderOak are quoted–and they’re FAR more reasonable and intelligent than today’s Dropbox drivel:
And I gotta say, as a company, if Microsoft has less intrusive TOS than you do, you’re doing something wrong. Kudos also to SpiderOak for blind-encrypting their stuff, so they can’t even get to it if they wanted to. There are a couple examples of how cloud-based data services should be done. I can’t believe I’m going to say this, but kudos to Microsoft!
Thanks everyone for spreading the word to those affected by all this!
I’ve posted a follow-up with recommendations on how to decide if, and what, back up service will suit your needs, and how to protect yourself from getting screwed by one. You can find that post here.
There are more updates on the Dropbox situation at my new blog post here.