News Tagged "Engineering Ethics Blog"
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Rolling Back Mass Surveillance
Bruce Schneier is a man worth listening to. In 1993, just as the Internet was gaining speed, he wrote one of the earliest books on applying cryptography to network communications, and has since become a well-known security specialist and author of about a dozen books on Internet security and related matters. So when someone like Schneier says we’re in big trouble and we need to do something fast to keep it from getting worse, we should at least pay attention.
The trouble is mass surveillance. In his latest book, Data and Goliath, he explains that mass surveillance is the practice of indiscriminately collecting giant data banks of information on people first, and then deciding what you can do with it. One of the best-known and most controversial examples of this is the practice of the U. S. National Security Agency (NSA) of grabbing telecommunications metadata (basically, who called whom when) covering the entire U. S., which was revealed when Edward Snowden made his stolen NSA files public in 2013. Advocates of the NSA defend the call database by saying the content of the calls is not monitored, only the fact that they were made. But Schneier makes short work of that argument in a few well-chosen examples showing that such metadata can easily reveal extremely private facts about a person: medical conditions or sexual orientation, for example…
Sidebar photo of Bruce Schneier by Joe MacInnis.