Big Brother: Point / Counterpoint

Here is Bruce Schneier’s post on his blog and here is Marcus Ranum’s view.

Bruce says:

The fear isn’t an Orwellian government deliberately creating the ultimate totalitarian state, although with the U.S.’s programs of phone-record surveillance, illegal wiretapping, massive data mining, a national ID card no one wants and Patriot Act abuses, one can make that case. It’s that we’re doing it ourselves, as a natural byproduct of the information society.We’re building the computer infrastructure that makes it easy for governments, corporations, criminal organizations and even teenage hackers to record everything we do, and—yes—even change our votes. And we will continue to do so unless we pass laws regulating the creation, use, protection, resale and disposal of personal data. It’s precisely the attitude that trivializes the problem that creates it.

Marcus says:

Can you seriously imagine what The Department Of Big Brother Department would be like? If they had gotten started in 1984 like they were supposed to, they’d probably have just recently switched most of their agency Email off of AOL into their own, outsourced, private service – after incurring massive cost-overruns and having their mail server compromised by a 9-year-old hacker. If The President ordered The Department Of Big Brother Department to jigger the E-voting machines in Florida to rig the 2008 election, it’d never work. By the time they had gotten the first couple implementations specified, implemented and tested, it would be 2016 and by then the E-voting machines wouldn’t be running Vista any more and they’d need to start over. Obviously, I’m kidding around here, but anyone who thinks that Big Brother is a problem is seriously over-estimating the competence of our government. Now that is something worth worrying about! Instead of worrying about protecting us from prying RFID snoops, let’s ask how it is that our government is spending Big Brother Budget Dollars but acting like Keystone Kops.

Me? I’ll only worry about Big Brother if the federal government starts hiring the guys who built, Google, Ebay, and Yahoo!


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