Feeds

Schneier sticks it to surveillance

Inglorious five-year snoop-plan

The Power of One eBook: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

Security guru Bruce Schneier has challenged the view that privacy and security are at loggerheads, suggesting the real debate is between liberty and control.

Schneier, security technologist and CTO of BT Counterpane, made the comments during a keynote address at the RSA Conference in London on Tuesday. He sees ubiquitous surveillance and measures such as identity cards tipping the balance towards the state, describing them as stepping stones towards a future where checks become less obtrusive while simultaneously more all-encompassing.

"Identity checks will fade into the background," Schneier said. "At the moment there are CCTV cameras everywhere and you can see them. There are identity checks everywhere and you know it is happening. Five years ago these technologies weren't everywhere and in five years' time they won't be visible."

"Identity cards are just a temporary solution until biometrics take over. In five years or so these checks will happen in the background using RFID chips, you won't even know you are being checked."

Mobile phone tracking and facial recognition technology will also advance. Eventually it may get to the point where even airports don't do identity checks because they already know who individuals are, Schneier half-jokingly said.

Schneier said that technology advances (such as cheaper prices for storage) were an ally of obtrusive tools, so that we are moving towards an era of "wholesale surveillance" where every car or person can be tracked using image recognition technology and CCTV cameras.

"At the moment you can't process the data from surveillance cameras, but that will change within five years."

The cryptography expert said that it has become cheaper for governments and organisations to save information then decide whether or not to throw it away. Computers produce records, creating copious data records, an issue Schneier described as "data pollution".

In addition people leave digital footprints themselves through use of social networking, instant messaging and blogging, a phenomenon Schneier described as the "death of ephemeral conversation".

"The law is not keeping pace with technology improvements... but the death of privacy, while natural, isn't inevitable," Schneier argued. "Future generations will judge us on how well we grapple with issues such as the data pollution and the protection of privacy." ®

The Power of One eBook: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

More from The Register

next story
HIDDEN packet sniffer spy tech in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert
Don't panic though – Apple's backdoor is not wide open to all, guru tells us
BMW's ConnectedDrive falls over, bosses blame upgrade snafu
Traffic flows up 20% as motorway middle lanes miraculously unclog
LibreSSL RNG bug fix: What's all the forking fuss about, ask devs
Blow to bit-spitter 'tis but a flesh wound, claim team
Mozilla fixes CRITICAL security holes in Firefox, urges v31 upgrade
Misc memory hazards 'could be exploited' - and guess what, one's a Javascript vuln
Putin: Crack Tor for me and I'll make you a MILLIONAIRE
Russian Interior Ministry offers big pile o' roubles for busting pro-privacy browser
Manic malware Mayhem spreads through Linux, FreeBSD web servers
And how Google could cripple infection rate in a second
Don't look, Snowden: Security biz chases Tails with zero-day flaws alert
Exodus vows not to sell secrets of whistleblower's favorite OS
Researcher sat on critical IE bugs for THREE YEARS
VUPEN waited for Pwn2Own cash while IE's sandbox leaked
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.