Cloud computing and its ethical challenges


The paper analyses six ethical challenges posed by cloud computing, concerning ownership, safety, fairness, responsibility, accountability and privacy. The first part defines cloud computing on the basis of a resource-oriented approach, and outlines the main features that characterise such technology. Following these clarifications, the second part argues that cloud computing reshapes some classic problems often debated in information and computer ethics. To begin with, cloud computing makes possible a complete decoupling of ownership, possession and use of data and this helps to explain the problems occurring when different providers of cloud computing retain or relinquish the right to use or own users‘ data. The problem of safety in cloud computing is coupled to that of reliability, insofar as users have to trust providers to preserve their data, applications and content in a reliable manner. It is argued that, in this context, data insurance could play an important role. Regarding fairness, the paper argues that cloud computing is already reshaping the nature of the Digital. Responsibility, accountability and privacy close the ethical analysis of cloud computing. In this case, the thesis is that the necessity to account for the actions of cloud computing users imposes delicate trade-offs between users‘ privacy and the traceability of their operations.

Author Profiles

Matteo Turilli
University of Oxford
Luciano Floridi
Yale University


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