Much ado about nothing -- Dropbox quells fears of file snooping on users
Throughout today I have watched, with a sort of detached fascination, the attention suddenly being heaped upon cloud storage service Dropbox. It is certainly not the sort of publicity a company wants, either. It also is unwarranted. The company, at least by some outlets, is being accused of policing users' personal files in a search for copyrighted material.
The fact is, this all came about based on a tweet from one lone user, who was simply mentioning a system that was already in place, and has been for some time. Darrell Whitelaw, the user at the center of this, was only asking a question, not accusing the service of anything.
"Wow. @dropbox DMCA takedown in personal folders . . . this is new to me", the tweet reads. Mr. Whitelaw has since followed up, multiple times, explaining what he intended, and has been contacted by Dropbox with an explanation.
The simple truth is much more mundane than some of the sensationalistic stories floating about today. BetaNews reached out to Dropbox for an official statement, and you can read the response we received, below.
"There have been some questions around how we handle copyright notices. We sometimes receive DMCA notices to remove links on copyright grounds. When we receive these, we process them according to the law and disable the identified link. We have an automated system that then prevents other users from sharing the identical material using another Dropbox link. This is done by comparing file hashes. We don’t look at the files in your private folders and are committed to keeping your stuff safe".
Your personally stored files, as far as we know, are not being scanned by the service. The only action being taken is to block shares of a file that matches one involved in a DMCA takedown notice. That file will not be removed from your cloud storage account either, just prevented from being shared. It's a simple solution and isn't even new.
With all of the recent news surrounding the NSA, hacked services and such -- not to mention the continuous concern about the DMCA -- it isn't a surprise this got so much attention. You can't always believe what you read on the Internet, though.