Renowned tech security specialist Bruce Schneier* has declared it is “time to take the internet back”:
Government and industry have betrayed the internet, and us.
By subverting the internet at every level to make it a vast, multi-layered and robust surveillance platform, the NSA has undermined a fundamental social contract. The companies that build and manage our internet infrastructure, the companies that create and sell us our hardware and software, or the companies that host our data: we can no longer trust them to be ethical internet stewards.
This is not the internet the world needs, or the internet its creators envisioned. We need to take it back.
And by we, I mean the engineering community.
Yes, this is primarily a political problem, a policy matter that requires political intervention.
But this is also an engineering problem, and there are several things engineers can – and should – do.
Please read the whole thing.
The Guardian has allowed Mr. Schneier access to the Greenwald-Snowden collection of documents taken from the NSA. This call to action was prompted by what he has found. (In addition to this essay he penned a short summary on how to remain secure from NSA surveillance based on the Snowden documents).
The clamor of opinions on the Syria question threatens to drown out Mr. Schneier’s stand. His is a courageous resolve – and he asks others to join him in it. It deserves to be read by every computer scientist and engineer who can make a difference. As Schneier says at the close of his essay:
Generations from now, when people look back on these early decades of the internet, I hope they will not be disappointed in us. We can ensure that they don’t only if each of us makes this a priority, and engages in the debate. We have a moral duty to do this, and we have no time to lose.
Dismantling the surveillance state won’t be easy. Has any country that engaged in mass surveillance of its own citizens voluntarily given up that capability? Has any mass surveillance country avoided becoming totalitarian? Whatever happens, we’re going to be breaking new ground.
Again, the politics of this is a bigger task than the engineering, but the engineering is critical. We need to demand that real technologists be involved in any key government decision making on these issues. We’ve had enough of lawyers and politicians not fully understanding technology; we need technologists at the table when we build tech policy.
To the engineers, I say this: we built the internet, and some of us have helped to subvert it. Now, those of us who love liberty have to fix it.
Read this and share it.
*Also known as the the only man who can compete with Chuck Norris
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