Imagine being able to set expiration dates to all of your personally identifiable information on the cloud. Think having gmail or yahoo messages go kaput after one year. Think about your blog postings or comments left around the internet, are they even necessary and relevant in the future? What about your Google Docs? What about those Flickr and SmugMug accounts with family photos that you forget about. Another great example is those college photo’s on Facebook when you were bonging a beer.
A group of graduate students the U. of Washington (congrats on defeating USC) are working on Vanish, a project aims to do exactly that. Basically each of your expired messages, pictures, posts uses a unique encryption key. That key is stored across the bit torrent network with a TTL set to your expiration date. Once the expiration date is reached the torrents begin to die and the key is ruined. Very slick, it’s too bad this couldn’t piggy back on the existing Tor infrastructure as well.