With everyone touting the benefits of cloud computing, most people don’t think about the danger that this presents. Mirco Wilhelm, a German photographer, has learned firsthand the dangers involved as Flickr (owned by Yahoo!) accidentally deleted his 4,000 image collection.
The issue started when Mr. Wilhelm contacted Flickr to report another user who had copyrighted material on the site. A couple of days later, he found that he was unable to login to his account so contacted support again and received the following message:
Unfortunately, I have mixed up the accounts and accidentally deleted yours. I am terribly sorry for this grave error and hope that this mistake can be reconciled. Here is what I can do from here:
I can restore your account, although we will not be able to retrieve your photos. I know that there is a lot of history on your account—again, please accept my apology for my negligence. Once I restore your account, I will add four years of free Pro to make up for my error.
Please let me know if there’s anything else I can do.
Again, I am deeply sorry for this mistake.
In essence Flickr is offering Mr. Wilhelm a mere $99.80 for the gaffe and while their terms of service state that they have “no responsibility or liability for the deletion or failure to store any messages and other communications or other Content maintained or transmitted by the Yahoo! Services,” what will the company do if users stop trusting their service?
The obvious question is, “Why isn’t Flickr backing up paid accounts?” But the deeper question is whether people should trust their data to be stored and readily accessible via the cloud. While there are definite advantages to the paradigm, the only way to be completely sure that your data is safe and secure is to keep control over it yourself.
[Update] It appears that Flickr has given in to peer pressure. Due to all of the negative publicity, they have now restored all of the photos, comments, and tags and have also extended his subscription through 2036. The squeaky wheel gets the grease.