Feeds

Schneier sticks it to surveillance

Inglorious five-year snoop-plan

Boost IT visibility and business value

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." ®

Gartner critical capabilities for enterprise endpoint backup

More from The Register

next story
Microsoft: We plan to CLEAN UP this here Windows Store town
Paid-for apps that provide free downloads? Really
Snowden on NSA's MonsterMind TERROR: It may trigger cyberwar
Plus: Syria's internet going down? That was a US cock-up
Who needs hackers? 'Password1' opens a third of all biz doors
GPU-powered pen test yields more bad news about defences and passwords
e-Borders fiasco: Brits stung for £224m after US IT giant sues UK govt
Defeat to Raytheon branded 'catastrophic result'
Hear ye, young cyber warriors of the realm: GCHQ wants you
Get involved, get a job and then never discuss work ever again
Chinese hackers spied on investigators of Flight MH370 - report
Classified data on flight's disappearance pinched
Microsoft cries UNINSTALL in the wake of Blue Screens of Death™
Cache crash causes contained choloric calamity
prev story

Whitepapers

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.
7 Elements of Radically Simple OS Migration
Avoid the typical headaches of OS migration during your next project by learning about 7 elements of radically simple OS migration.
BYOD's dark side: Data protection
An endpoint data protection solution that adds value to the user and the organization so it can protect itself from data loss as well as leverage corporate data.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?