US President, Barack Obama, today brought a delighted smile to the face of a ten year old English girl.
'I lost my mobile phone last month,' explained Sophie Harris from Cornwall, England. 'I was really, really upset as it had details of all my friends on it and lots and lots of messages that I was saving.'
Sophie heard that President Obama was keeping an eye on all communications in Europe and so she wrote to him at the White House asking if he had a copy of the data she had lost.
'I wasn't really expecting a reply from Mr Obama,' admitted Sophie to BBC News. 'I thought he'd be very busy trying to borrow zillions of dollars from somewhere or bombing foreign countries or stuff like that. I was really surprised to get a letter back containing a memory stick that had all the stuff from my lost phone on it.'
'The letter was on White House notepaper too,' said Sophie's mother, Barbara Harris. 'I think it was a really kind thing for the President to do. In his letter,' she added, 'he even included a note saying my NHS records showed I was due for a routine screening appointment. My husband was also pleased to be reminded in the same letter that his current account was nearly overdrawn. The President could not have been more helpful.'
A White House spokesman admitted that, whilst they had been delighted to help Sophie and her family, the response was part of a wider public relations initiative to counter recent bad publicity about monitoring by the US National Security Agency (NSA) of all forms of electronic communication in Europe and beyond. 'We were perplexed, and perhaps a little hurt,' said Dwight Digistein, 'when people all over the world started to accuse us of massive and unprecedented intrusion into their private affairs. We would like to re-frame the activities of the NSA as a form of benign cloud-backup.'
Mr Digistein went on to explain that, despite the existence of backup systems for digital data, both in the form of removable hardware and in the cloud, remarkably few people ever bothered to backup anything. 'We hope that people can be more relaxed about the use of IT systems,' he continued, 'confident in the knowledge that everything they write or say, and any digital information that is held about them, will also be stored for safe keeping in Washington.'
Google and other companies involved in cloud storage have expressed concerns about the NSA placing them at a commercial disadvantage. 'The NSA does not charge for this backup service and it is very easy for consumers to use,' said a spokeswoman for Google. 'There is no need for consumers to register to use the service, they are automatically enrolled, and, indeed, most don't even know about it. It could not be simpler for them. As a result, the NSA also saves money by not needing to provide any technical support to users. In addition,' she concluded, 'the NSA system currently seems more secure than its competitors who are regularly the victims of successful hackings.'
It is reported that Google, Twitter, Facebook and other major providers of assorted Internet services, while expressing reservations about the NSA cloud-backup service, have also found it valuable when they, themselves, have experienced catastrophic server failures and needed to recover vast quantities of user data.
The debate continues, but, for the moment, at least one little girl in England is happy with the NSA. 'Thanks to Mr Obama,' concluded Sophie, 'I can now text all my friends to invite them to my birthday party.'