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Wozniak criticizes cloud dependence in light of NSA

Apple's outspoken co-founder cuts to the chase on tech firms' cloud reliance: systems just aren't safe from spying eyes.

Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak.
Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak. James Martin/CNET
SAN FRANCISCO -- Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak says he has sympathy for companies at odds with the NSA and its surveillance tactics, but that their own dependence on server farms is part of the problem.

"I think most companies, just like Apple, start out young and idealistic," Wozniak said at the Apps World North America convention here. "But now all these companies are going to the cloud. And with the cloud you don't have any control."

Tech companies, of course, are on the defensive these days, after disclosures about the NSA last year. In October, The Washington Post reported that the NSA and its British counterpart, the GCHQ, had specifically infiltrated data stores belonging to Google and Yahoo by targeting information in transit between data centers.

"We don't have any strong regulations or principles," he added, addressing the scope of the federal government's surveillance. Wozniak, who provided initial funding for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, said that when he was younger he understood that someone could wiretap your phone if you were suspected of wrongdoing but that some of the current tactics are another story. "We're on a bad path in that direction."

On Monday, major tech firms -- Google, Microsoft, Apple, Yahoo, Facebook, and LinkedIn -- began disclosing more information about FISA requests from the government.