Protecting personal data is why most consumers utilize online backup accounts. Each provider has its own set of terms and conditions of use; detailing what customer and company rights are. These regulations cover everything from protection of information, fair use policy to account termination.
However, many users still don’t understand what legal recourse against cloud services they may have in the event of data loss.
Understanding Legal Recourse Against Cloud Services
It might seem that people are quick to litigate over anything; many cloud providers have written in some protection against litigation. That does not mean these companies cannot be sued, it simple makes bringing some of them to court more difficult.
Do Users Have the Right to Sue?
Dropbox is one cloud service provider that has made it difficult to sue. Thanks to recent changes in their End-User-Agreement, EUA, any user with a legal complaint against the company must first go through arbitration.
Meeting with a mediator to settle the dispute can be beneficial to both sides, but it does keep the company from appearing before a judge and jury. Of course, if negotiations don’t work out, the case can be escalated to court. Some companies may not specify mediation in their terms and conditions.
However, it is often the first step before a lawsuit is issued.
The consumer’s right to bring a civil suit against any company depends on where both the person and the company reside. Some countries require a greater burden of proof than others to bring lawsuits against businesses despite what the terms and conditions state.
When Should Users Bring Lawsuits?
In order to bring a matter before a court there must be substantial breach of contract evidence. The burden of proof is on the complainant, so the user has to show how the agreement was wrongly severed by the company.
As the burden of proof is on the consumer’s shoulders, significant evidence needs to be available. A user must be able to prove that the cloud company wrongfully or negligently deleted personal data. The complainant must also show how he/she was not at fault, i.e. paid bills, didn’t exceed storage or bandwidth limitations, etc.
He or she must also be able to show how the loss of this information caused damage, either financial or emotional.
In the event the cloud company has barred access or deleted information per their rights in the terms and conditions, there may still be room for litigation. However, to bring a case like this to any judge successfully, the consumer must show how the EULA was vague in its wording and how he attempted to obtain clarification on said terminology.
Is it Worth it to Sue?
Bringing a civil suit against a company can be expensive and frustrating. Some lawyers won’t collect a fee until a settlement is reached, however that can be 30 percent or more of the final total. Recovery of the data is probably not going to happen, as it is gone no matter what the outcome.
Whether it is worth it to sue the cloud company is up to the consumer. For some it is a matter of righting a wrong. For others, it’s about revenge, no matter how small it may be. Even if an award is given, it could still be years before the user sees any as companies have the rights to appeal any decision which may lower or even reverse the original award amount.
Consumers do have legal recourse against cloud services in the event of data loss. However, the burden of proof lies solely on customers and it can be expensive and time consuming to pursue.
Just because there are options it doesn’t mean that they have to be used. It may not be in users’ best interests.