Sunday, February 17, 2008

Bruce Schneier hits a home run

I'm sure many of you are familiar with Bruce Schneier's Web site. He's an authority on security, cryptography and related areas.

In a recent article in his Crypto-gram newsletter he considers the competing demands of security versus privacy - and makes some very interesting points.

We've been told we have to trade off security and privacy so often -- in debates on security versus privacy, writing contests, polls, reasoned essays and political rhetoric -- that most of us don't even question the fundamental dichotomy.

But it's a false one.

Security and privacy are not opposite ends of a seesaw; you don't have to accept less of one to get more of the other. Think of a door lock, a burglar alarm and a tall fence. Think of guns, anti-counterfeiting measures on currency and that dumb liquid ban at airports. Security affects privacy only when it's based on identity, and there are limitations to that sort of approach.

. . .

The debate isn't security versus privacy. It's liberty versus control.

. . .

You're expected to give up control of your privacy to others, who -- presumably -- get to decide how much of it you deserve. That's what loss of liberty looks like.

Brilliantly analyzed and cogently argued. Read the whole thing and keep it in mind the next time you hear some official mouthing off about giving up your privacy in the interests of security.

They're lying.


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