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Reasonable Expectation of Privacy From Web Hosts? 287

Shafted writes "I'm in a bit of dilemma, and I'm wondering what fellow Slashdotters think regarding this subject. I've been hosting web sites for some clients for years using my own server. About a year and a half ago, I got a reseller account with a company that will remain nameless. They are, however, fairly large, and they did come highly recommended. Other than the usual slow tech support, occasional server overloading, and... well... typical support staff, it's been pretty good and has saved me from having to deal with problems like hardware and driving down to the colo at 4AM to figure out a routing problem. All-in-all, it was acceptable. Until yesterday, when I was asking for a relatively minor email-related fix, and by the tech support staff's response, they had accessed my MySQL database directly and looked at the contents; presumably, in order to tell me what I was doing wrong. Regardless of the fact that they missed the boat with regards to the support question, I found it surprising that they would access my database data without my consent. When I asked them why they were accessing the database without my permission, they've pretty much ignored me, despite repeated requests asking why they think this is acceptable. So, my question is this: Do I, as a customer who, according to the acceptable use policy, owns my data, have a reasonable expectation of privacy for the data which I own, despite it being hosted on a third-party's server? Or do web hosting companies have the right to poke around at everyone's data as they see fit?" Read below for the rest of the question.

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