IT, Security, and Power
Bruce Schneier & Jonathan Zittrain in conversation
From Bruce Schneier:
What I've Been Thinking About
I have been thinking about the Internet and power: how the Internet affects power, and how power affects the Internet. Increasingly, those in power are using information technology to increase their power. This has many facets, including the following:
1. Ubiquitous surveillance for both government and corporate purposes -- aided by cloud computing, social networking, and Internet-enabled everything -- resulting in a world without any real privacy.
3. Ill-conceived laws and regulations on behalf of either government or corporate power, either to prop up their business models (copyright protections), enable more surveillance (increased police access to data), or control our actions in cyberspace.
4. A feudal model of security that leaves users with little control over their data or computing platforms, forcing them to trust the companies that sell the hardware, software, and systems.
On the one hand, we need new regimes of trust in the information age. (I wrote about the extensively in my most recent book, Liars and Outliers.) On the other hand, the risks associated with increasing technology might mean that the fear of catastrophic attack will make us unable to create those new regimes.
It is clear to me that we as a society are headed down a dangerous path, and that we need to make some hard choices about what sort of world we want to live in. It's not clear if we have the social or political will to address those choices, or even have the conversations necessary to make them. But I believe we need to try.
About Bruce Schneier
Bruce Schneier is an internationally renowned security technologist and author. Described by The Economist as a "security guru," he is best known as a refreshingly candid and lucid security critic and commentator. When people want to know how security really works, they turn to Schneier.
His first bestseller, Applied Cryptography, explained how the arcane science of secret codes actually works, and was described by Wired as "the book the National Security Agency wanted never to be published." His book on computer and network security, Secrets and Lies, was called by Fortune "[a] jewel box of little surprises you can actually use." Beyond Fear tackles the problems of security from the small to the large: personal safety, crime, corporate security, national security. Schneier on Security, offers insight into everything from the risk of identity theft (vastly overrated) to the long-range security threat of unchecked presidential power. His latest book, Liars and Outliers, explains how societies use security to enable the trust that they need to survive.
Regularly quoted in the media -- and subject of an Internet meme -- he has testified on security before the United States Congress on several occasions and has written articles and op eds for many major publications, including The New York Times, The Guardian, Forbes, Wired, Nature, The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Boston Globe, The San Francisco Chronicle, and The Washington Post.
Schneier also publishes a free monthly newsletter, Crypto-Gram, and a blog, Schneier on Security, with a combined 250,000 readers. In more than ten years of regular publication, Crypto-Gram has become one of the most widely read forums for free-wheeling discussions, pointed critiques, and serious debate about security. As head curmudgeon at the table, Schneier explains, debunks, and draws lessons from security stories that make the news.
About Jonathan Zittrain
Jonathan Zittrain is Professor of Law at Harvard Law School and the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, Professor of Computer Science at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, and co-founder of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society. His research interests include battles for control of digital property and content, cryptography, electronic privacy, the roles of intermediaries within Internet architecture, human computing, and the useful and unobtrusive deployment of technology in education.