Wednesday, July 16, 2008

How to call for a Senate or Congressional Hearing?

Does anyone have experience of Senate or Congressional Hearings? I only know how things work in Brazil and the UK, where the issues this case raises might interest a politician in conducting an inquiry if the companies involved were based there.

As they are US companies, is there an existing committee that people could contact to ask it to look at the issue of data ownership and protection in the age of remote storage? Or would it be necessary to ask a Senator or Member of Congress to take some action?

A quick search of the internet has turned up sites that make it very easy to contact elected representatives, but it would be good to develop a suggested message first, with a call to action. Something short and self-explanatory along the following lines perhaps (leave comments with your opinions):

---Possible draft message
I am contacting you as your are my representative in the Senate/Congress. I request that you support an inquiry into the issue of data ownership and protection in the age of remote storage via the internet. Increasingly people are using on-line services to back up and share data.

In a current case a company has gone bankrupt meaning people will lose access to their data, some of which has been collected for years and some of which has great personal or financial value. The company that has gone bankrupt (Mediamax) sub-contracted storage to another company (Nirvanix), both of which have their origin in another company (Streamload) which made the service agreement with many of the data owners. The data on the servers is shortly to be destroyed by Nirvanix, which continues to offer third-party storage to other service companies.

An inquiry is needed to investigate :

(1) how responsbility for storing thousands of gigabytes of data were transferred from Streamload to Nirvanix without data owners having a direct relationship with Nirvanix,

(2) the deletion of millions of files, apparently due to a Nirvanix mistake, which harmed the image of Mediamax to the point its business has failed and, in particular, whether there was any deliberate intention to drive legacy customers away so space could be freed for other, possibly more lucrative, customers,

[UPDATE 29 July 2008: Although invited to comment specifically on these media reports prior to this blog opening, Nirvanix, in its reply, did not do so. Today it has emailed alleging the Techcrunch article that reproduced a comment alleging it was a Nirvanix employee who deleted the files is 'inaccurate and libelous'].

(3) the responsibility that Nirvanix, as holder of the data and successor to Streamload, has in reuniting owners with their data,

(4) data protection issues concerning the fact that users of the system found files from other people turning up in their accounts, and

(5) the general issue of ownership and protection of data stored via the internet, particularly when this is subcontracted to third parties. If current legislation will not enable people to retrieve their data from Nirvanix or receive compensation for lost data, are new laws needed?

I look forward to your views.


Jabash said...

A hearing is never going to happen. I would think the only hope left is for a journalist to do a story and embarrass Nirvanix into preserving the data.

I don't see any hope but would love to know what really happened behind the scenes.

Anonymous said...

How about dropping these handfuls of links in the direction of some media outlets?

Maybe a bit more PERSONAL than just a bunch of emails from a bunch of disgruntled customers...

Can you picture John Stossel, interviewing Steve Iverson and friends on national television?

Mmmmm...YUP. The media is our FRIEND.

Anonymous said...

DONE. Waiting for Mr Stossel's reply.

Please join in:

Alla you ex-Streamload/ ex-MediaMax/ ex-TheLinkup employees KEEP YER HAIR COMBED NICE FER MR STOSSEL, Y'HEAR?!? The cameras are rollin' and yer mommas are all watchin'...

Thanks again.

Tom Bassett said...

I would think the only hope left is for a journalist to do a story and embarrass Nirvanix into preserving the data.

I tried to be that journalist. I posted stories on Newsvine some time ago. According to Newsvine Mediamax, someone from Nirvanix called them and bullied them into removing (censoring) my articles - though they contained naught but the truth.

Journalists, at least most in print and TV, aren't tech savvy enough to understand what's going on. I think the TechCrunch stories are maybe the best we can do.

I happen to live almost within walking distance of Nirvanix HQ, and would be happy to put fliers up in the area, if I thought it'd make a difference. Most potential Nirvanix customers will never visit their actual physical location.

Jabash said...

Yes, you have done a lot, but the blogs are not like a nationally syndicated journalist and sometimes the blog got too emotional and maybe made the problem worse. (I feel your pain, btw.)

I doubt a John Stossel would be interested but there are others who cover the IT industry for the PC mags or Computerworld, etc. Even a local San Diego paper might be interested.

Anonymous said...

Even LOCAL news outlets could stand to get the word out - newpapers, too (does anyone still read those?).

If it's a slow news day, this debacle would make a nice writeup.

Maybe the way to spin it would be to point out how much power the lowly customer has these much work would it have been ten years ago to get this much word out, this quickly, and topple the company (don't know if we actually toppled it, but...)?

People, get the word out - keep this from happening again! Let the other companies out there know that we will not tolerate treatment like this!

It's the 21st century, and the playing field is more level now than it ever has been before.

Jabash said...

I think this guy might be interested.

He wrote this article in May.

Luzo Orbit said...

There is potential for doing something in the UK Parliament, if not in the US. See:

Great to get some more journalists interested if we can.