I don't want to get all hyperbolic about this, but the suddenness of the federal government's shutdown of cloud-based file storage provider Megaupload last week got me thinking about the possible implications for healthcare IT.
Megaupload shutdown highlights mega-problems
The government's seizure of Megaupload's servers, trapping the content of whatever files were stored there, sure threw cold water on a lot of free-Internet activists who thought they had engineered a grassroots legislative victory by halting passage of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA).
What opponents of SOPA and PIPA feared—that the proposed new laws would enable the government to shutter websites at will without due process—is, ironically, exactly what it appears the government just did.
Was every file on Megaupload pirated? Were legitimate business records stored there? Health records? (Heaven forbid.)
What about video and music files stored by artists and musicians? My daughter's boyfriend is a struggling young musician. Last night, we were talking about the government seizure of all the files on Megaupload, and for him, it was a big deal. No way can he store all of his music files on his home computer, he explained, so he uses an online storage service. Fortunately for him, his wasn't Megaupload, but the precipitous government action certainly gave him something to think about.
Spend a little time checking out the #Megaupload thread on Twitter and you'll get a sense that he isn't alone in his concern. Our Justice Department's honey-badger approach has given the U.S. yet another international black eye. For example, the #Megaupload seizure has become an international incident as Spaniards prepare to demand that the FBI return their stored files.
Here's an interesting post about the seizure. As is often the case with online postings, some of the comments provide welcome contributions to the discussion. One in particular, by Jessica on Jan. 22 at 5:55 a.m., I found particularly thoughtful and well-written.
I have reported before about the advent of cloud-based computing in healthcare, and, most recently, the weakening reluctance of the healthcare industry to embrace this new/old technology, with the concerns over privacy and security still seen as the big limiting factors.
Should big-footed federal government enforcement actions be added to the list? What do you think?
Follow Joseph Conn on Twitter: @MHJConn.
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