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Bruce Schneier: 'We live in a feudal security world'

Divina Paredes | March 6, 2013
We live today in a "feudal security world", says internationally renowned security technologist Bruce Schneier."

Power wielders "Power is power," he says. "Unless we take Draconian measures, our data is no longer under our control." The powerful are trying to steer and succeeding using power to change the rules of the game, he says, from media companies shoring up their copyright claims, or Netflix lobbying to make it easier to use and share data on what movies you like.

"I think this is going to happen more and more as companies get more control of data," he says. With cloud computing where cost of data storage is dropping except for lifecycle maintenance costs, cloud service providers can put computers wherever it is on the planet that is cheapest to maintain them. "We see data disassociated from the devices [from where] we access the data," he says. Debates on the future of the internet are around moral and political issues. "How do you balance privacy with law enforcement needs?"

He poses further questions: "Do we have the right to see data about ourselves, correct it delete it? Do we really want to live in a world that never forgets?

"We live in a world where there is no more forgetting," he says, "we don't know whether it is a good idea or not". The worry is that the powerful are winning the debates, he says.

Sometimes, he says, "we can block actions of the powerful," citing the decision to remove the body scanners producing near-naked images at airports, which users found intrusive.

But these, he says, are the exception. Schneier sees bigger power struggles on the horizon. Feudalism fell out of favour with rise of nation states, he says. "We need something similar to the internet, we want someone to enforce obligations on these companies instead of just giving them rights." He warns that this is going to be a "long and bloody battle".

"No one gives up power easily."


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