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The rise of the personal cloud

Byron Connolly | July 4, 2014
Are decentralised, private cloud services the future of information storing and sharing?

Telsyte analyst Rodney Gedda says there's a resurgence in the Internet privacy debate and although peer-to-peer services are nothing new, any product that gives consumers options is one to watch.

"Even with more traditional cloud services, there are ways you can encrypt data before you send it into the cloud. There are ways to use [the services] temporarily but not have any long term data stored in the cloud," he says.

He expects in the future, consumers will use a combination of on-premise, personal-owned or peer-to-peer (P2P), and centralised cloud models.

He cited Syncthing and [[xref:|Infinit as two new useful P2P apps that promise secure, private file sharing.

Syncthing says it replaces Dropbox and BitTorrent Sync with a decentralised service that lets users decide where their information is stored, if it's shared with another party, and how it is transmitted over the Internet.

The technology behind Respect

Respect Network uses the eXtensible Data Interchange (XDI) open standard, which has been developed by the Advancement of Structured Information Standards (OASIS).

It essentially enables users to securely and privately transfer their own data between hosting partners, rather than social networks and websites they use to interact and transact.

Consumers and businesses connect by clicking the 'Respect Connect' button. This could be a website that wants to offer a Respect connection or a connection to a cloud service, anything from a single sign on service to entering and sharing medical or financial records or applying for a mortgage online, says Drummond.

"It doesn't matter how simple or complicated it is, it always appears as 'Click the Respect Connect' button. That's how you will share data privately and securely; all Respect Connections are going to be bank level privacy and security," Drummond says.

Respect Networks' Drummond Reed

Drummond says part of the reason we have privacy problems with the Internet today is that it's based on an open, public architecture where much of the data being moved around is not encrypted.

This has made it much easier for governments, for instance, to do surveillance. The availability of personal clouds will make it much harder for an individual's information to be viewed and tracked, he says.

"We see announcements from Google, Facebook and Microsoft [where] they are encrypting more and more [and] that makes it somewhat safer. But if you are still storing data on centralised servers, it is much more easily surveilled than if is moving in peer-to-peer connections between private clouds all over the network."

Improving the user experience

Australian firm Flamingo Networks is one of Respect Network's integration partners, meaning it's the 'bridge' between personal clouds and the enterprise, says founder Dr Catriona Wallace.


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