Communications systems that have no inherent eavesdropping capabilities are more secure than systems with those capabilities built in

Bruce Schneier writes that surveillance and data retention laws – like the one now being pushed here in Norway – make everyone less safe:

In order to comply with government search warrants on user data, Google created a backdoor access system into Gmail accounts. This feature is what the Chinese hackers exploited to gain access.Google’s system isn’t unique. Democratic governments around the world — in Sweden, Canada and the UK, for example — are rushing to pass laws giving their police new powers of Internet surveillance, in many cases requiring communications system providers to redesign products and services they sell.

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Any surveillance and control system must itself be secured. An infrastructure conducive to surveillance and control invites surveillance and control, both by the people you expect and by the people you don’t.China’s hackers subverted the access system Google put in place to comply with U.S. intercept orders. Why does anyone think criminals won’t be able to use the same system to steal bank account and credit card information, use it to launch other attacks or turn it into a massive spam-sending network? Why does anyone think that only authorized law enforcement can mine collected Internet data or eavesdrop on phone and IM conversations?

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Communications systems that have no inherent eavesdropping capabilities are more secure than systems with those capabilities built in. And it’s bad civic hygiene to build technologies that could someday be used to facilitate a police state.

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