Google Blogoscoped

Forum

Bruce Schneier: "It's bad civic hygiene to build technologies that could someday be used to facilitate a police state"  (View post)

Veky [PersonRank 10]

Sunday, January 24, 2010
9 years ago3,550 views

The same way that Schneier doesn't understand that _all_ technologies are on _his_ list. :-P Besides, to use Philipp's favorite example, if we thought like that, we wouldn't have pens now. :-)

Ianf [PersonRank 10]

9 years ago #

Veky, would that –the pens, or even their mechanical brethren the typerwriters– be so bad? More and more I miss the sense of accomplishment, serendipity and p a c e that accompanied pre-computer written person-to-person communication. The effort needed to make them happen vouched for their very raison d'être. A case in point: during the last decade I received a sum total of 2 hand-written letters from new correspondents. I remember them both, indeed can recall their look and FEEL very well. Simultaneously, I don't remember a single e-mail conversation, from among tens of thousands conducted in the same time frame, in any detail.

Also, while technically you are right of all technologies' abuse potential, in reality there are some technologies –and the mentality/ advocacy that goes with them– that are more dangerous than others. I'm not sure if not building them (here and now) would in itself prevent or slow down advance of a police state, but we need to be aware of and ALERT TO their potential for facilitation of such an outcome.

Veky [PersonRank 10]

9 years ago #

Your first paragraph is easy to explain: people remember rare events, for obvious evolutionary reasons. It doesn't mean the rare events are more valuable in themselves, just that they are rare. I bet if you'd receive tens of hand-written letters a day, you wouldn't remember most of them.

Second paragraph is more interesting. While it's true that some technologies will be used more for advancing a police state than others, I'm pretty sure that it cannot be evaluated a priori. It is easy to look back and see: aha, those technologies were dangerous. But in the future, who knows?

And of course, as you say, police state, if/when it emerges, will use whatever technology will be available. And there is always something to use. If we somehow manage to evade the "police state" phase, it won't be because the technology will be missing.

Alex Ksikes [PersonRank 10]

9 years ago #

Yes indeed our governments are passing laws to facilitate "officials" to spy on its own people and Google does comply.

I find it rather amusing (and political in many ways) that Google is playing "good guy" by uncensoring search results in China.

How about they start adopting this approach to France for example? Personally I would like to find some negationism stuff on Google France just for the sake of completeness.

Tadeusz Szewczyk [PersonRank 10]

9 years ago #

Who knows that the hackers were Chinese? Maybe they were Americans. How would Chinese hackers know about a backdoor only American law enforcement was informed about?

Ianf [PersonRank 10]

9 years ago #

That's right, we don't know anything about the nationality of the actual hackers, nor that of their employers... they could be Peruvian for all I know [remember Fujimori: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alberto_ ...!]. However, Google has pointed out Chinese origin of the attacks and that's good enough for me; "nationality" being a vacuous term besides.

That said, we need to de-dramatise the language used to describe the event(s). Google's backdoor into Gmail for a specific, PRESUMABLY LEGAL, compliance mission sounds very suspicious – as if Google invaded someone else's servers for its own nefarious reasons. Not so, they own the lot lock stock and barrel; various divisions of them do. As such, any functionality built by themselves into their own systems are therefore legitimate by default.

Faced with legal obligations, Google has hardly had to share with the American authorities the methodology of how they gathered, collated and ultimately delivered the requested data. For all we know, the compromised Gmail backdoor-scheme was intended for no more than a specialized spider-harvester of pre-indexed bits and pieces of header content.

The security breach must have been the outcome of some carefully targeted reverse engineering process based upon traffic analysis of detected administrative query patterns issued by Google back-end to clients and vice-versa. That sounds like a hell of an effort, which is why Google's pointing fingers at Chinese state's involvement sounds plausible enough to me [whether there ultimately was a Peruvian-or-Other National Connection component to it or not].

This thread is locked as it's old... but you can create a new thread in the forum. 

Forum home

Advertisement

 
Blog  |  Forum     more >> Archive | Feed | Google's blogs | About
Advertisement

 

This site unofficially covers Google™ and more with some rights reserved. Join our forum!