Bruce Schneier and the Lords of the Cloud

I know the title sounds like a Harry Potter rip-off starring everyone's favourite IT security guru, but this is a video of Mr. Schneier giving a talk at Google about the state of security and privacy online.

I'll embed the video below (I highly recommend watching it). For those who don't have an hour to spare, I took some notes of the most pertinent things Bruce said.


  • The Internet (like most technology) magnifies power - those who already have power become even more powerful.
  • Users are becoming less powerful with the development of things like cloud computing and the removal of certain functions  like the ability to clear cookies and access the file system.
  • Security on the Internet is becoming like feudalism: the Lords of the Cloud (Google, Dropbox, Microsoft etc.) have the power and promise to protect us if we give them our allegiance.
  • The Internet (again, like most technology) is a double-edged sword -- there are two sides to every aspect: one positive or benign, the other negative. Consider:
    • content-filtering vs. censorship
    • marketing vs. propaganda
    • central quality control (Apple) vs. central government control (China)
  • Surveillance is the business model of the Internet.
  • Schneier sees corporate and government power (in the US) as aligned. Each group uses the other to get around the restrictions law places on them (e.g. the government could never pass a law to make people carry tracking devices... but we all carry smart devices; corporations use the government to pass laws that protect their business models).
  • It's an open question whether the Internet changes the balance of power in favour of the small and powerless or not.
    • But it's notable that the powerful are often winning the arguments in recent days.
  • We need more research into surveillance, propaganda, censorship and use control online.
  • We need to ensure safe places for anonymous publishing (like Wikileaks).
  • Making circumvention illegal and abolishing net neutrality allows the powerful to become even more powerful.
  • The Internet is not a public sphere. It is a collection of privately-owned public spaces.



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