Posts tagged Schneier
Data is currency, and consumers are willing to hand over their information in exchange for “free or convenience,” Schneier said. Companies such as Facebook and Google want the data so that they can sell more stuff. Users hand it over to play games, to get email, or some other benefit. “I like to think of this as a feudal model. At a most fundamental model, we are tenant farming for companies like Google. We are on their land producing data,” he said. By handing the data over, users have an expectation of trust that Google, Facebook, and other data brokers will do the right thing with the personal data. However, this becomes a power play when governments get involved. Governments don’t need to collect the data themselves when corporations are already doing it. “The NSA woke up and said ‘Corporations are spying on the Internet, let’s get ourselves a copy,’” Schneier said. Most NSA surveillance “piggybacks” what the companies are already doing, he said.
Some of this fear results from imperfect risk perception. We’re bad at accurately assessing risk; we tend to exaggerate spectacular, strange, and rare events, and downplay ordinary, familiar, and common ones. This leads us to believe that violence against police, school shootings, and terrorist attacks are more common and more deadly than they actually are – and that the costs, dangers, and risks of a militarized police, a school system without flexibility, and a surveillance state without privacy are less than they really are.
Knowing how the government spies on us is important. Not only because so much of it is illegal – or, to be as charitable as possible, based on novel interpretations of the law – but because we have a right to know. Democracy requires an informed citizenry in order to function properly, and transparency and accountability are essential parts of that. That means knowing what our government is doing to us, in our name. That means knowing that the government is operating within the constraints of the law. Otherwise, we’re living in a police state.