Video of the Week: Bruce Schneier and Eben Moglen

By any measure, 2013 will go down as the year we all saw the dark side of the Internet revolution, courtesy of Edward Snowden. So I think it’s fitting to showcase Eben Moglen’s conversation with Bruce Schneier as the final video of the week of 2013. This is long (90mins) but worth watching. Eben and Bruce are two of the leading intellectuals on the important subjects of trust, identity, privacy, and the Internet.


Comments (Archived):

  1. Matthew Zadrozny

    This was a great conversation and I’m happy to see it finally got posted. Moglen’s lectures, which he delivered before this, are also worth listening to ( ), and provide a profound historical and legal framework for thinking about surveillance, state and corporate.

  2. gregorylent

    hyper-connected, the word of the last decade most used to describe the internet and the world, means everything is connected to everything, all good connected to all evil … like nature, it is a single eco-system … we live or die by the values created within our collective consciousness .. we are part of a whole, nothing is outside of that wholeness .. technology points at what mystics have said forever .. we are one thing .. the only way to evolve it is to evolve ourselves ..

  3. jason wright

    the point that there is a psychological suppression of creative thought and ideas, that individuals are diminished by surveillance, is the only motivation we should ever need to work hard against this intrusion on our lives.Bruce’s point that cell architecture without centralization, peer to peer, is possible gives me hope. that he knows of no one working on it is disappointing. such a big opportunity.

    1. LE

      the point that there is a psychological suppression of creative thought and ideas, that individuals are diminished by surveillance, is the only motivation we should ever need to work hard against this intrusion on our lives.That’s one of the best reasons I have to actually watch the 90 minutes. Maybe instead of netflix tonight after my wife falls to sleep. But not for why you think (in other words not because I agree) but because on it’s face I don’t agree with the statement. So it piqued my interest.Separately I think Bruce (who says some good things for sure) is becoming a bit to big for his britches. He is practically “Bruce Inc.” and just like the government definitely has his agenda which dovetails with his specialty and marketability as well. He is for sure not without something to gain personally unlike Ralph Nader and auto safety in the 60’s. It is not about Ralph.I don’t think you can take things that he says without a degree of skepticism because of his ax to grind personally (consultant, up and coming media whore personality and of course author wanting to sell books).I did buy Liars and Outliers but didn’t make it past the first chapter and it’s a subject that I have interest in. I found it long winded and written in a very academic old school fashion. That doesn’t matter but I thought I would mention it.

      1. jason wright

        i only know him through Fred’s introduction. he’s not really on my radar. i don’t know what his agenda is. he won’t make the best seller lists doing talks like this one.his introduction as the world’s leading crypto made me smile. i’m sure it had the nsa laughing their collective socks off.when a person knows that they’re being observed their behavior is influenced. we all know this feeling, and personally i don’t like it at all. i feel inhibited. not a good thing.

      2. SubstrateUndertow

        It seem to me that privacy is the most primal of ownership issues without it we forfeit our cognitive autonomy!How exactly does anyones personal agenda alter that fundamental relationship?

  4. James Morgan

    Outstanding, Fred, thanks for posting this. I liked many points that were made/explained but esp for all the crypto-tech insight/ability and intellect Bruce is renowned for, the thing that helps him sleep at night is …”The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.”- MLK, Jr.

  5. sigmaalgebra

    Yup, we get pushed and dragged, yelling andscreaming into that least popular of all collegemajors, math!Yup, there is the fundamental theorem of arithmetic:Given a positive whole number, there is exactly oneway to factor that number into a product of primenumbers.However, how to do such factoring quickly has been amajor challenge of math since the ancient Greeks.No doubt a major fraction of the best mathematiciansin history have wrestled with this problem, with notvery good results.Testing, and, thus, generating prime numbers is mucheasier.Mostly that’s not a part of math I’m interested in,but I did get dragged into some of the beginningsvia courses in ‘abstract algebra’.Well, as I recall, the usual Diffie-Hellman,Rivest-Shamir-Adelman (RSA), Zimmerman Pretty GoodPrivacy (PGP), andBruce Schneier, ‘Applied Cryptography, SecondEdition: Protocols, Algorithms, and Source Code inC’, ISBN 0-471-11709-9, John Wiley and Sons, NewYork, 1996.(maybe a ‘forbidden book’!) argue that breaking oneof those cryptographic codes is equivalent tofinding a much more efficient way to factor largepositive integers into products of prime numbers.So, such codes are secure if and only if (from P.Halmos, iff) there is no more efficient way tofactor large integers (the positive assumption isnot important).Generally we can expect that if anyone finds a muchmore efficient way to factor large integers, thenone way or another the news will be on the frontpages of some famous newspaper, maybe in the US,England, Russia, wherever.In the meanwhile, codes starting with an integer ofa few thousand decimal digits that is a product oftwo large prime numbers will (in practice) be(essentially) unbreakable.So, if there is much doubt about the correspondingsoftware, then just use open source software, e.g.,the source code to PGP or the code in Schneier’sbook. The crucial core of the software is actuallyquite short, and the key prerequisite math result isjust Fermat’s little theorem which is easy to state,understand, and prove.For cryptographic codes based on elliptic curves, Iam less sure and highly unmotivated to dig into thedetails since I have much better things to do.For PGP, etc., people can just use that. E.g., fore-mail(1) Write e-mail using your favorite text editor.(2) Save your typing as a file and then run a littlecommand line utility program to encrypt that file.Can write that little utility in C, and it can putout the encrypted version in a file using standardbase 64 notation which is easy to work with since itis just lines of the standard printable characterswith at most (as I recall) 72 characters per line.Base 64 is an Internet standard and no doubtprofusely documented on the Internet; Google search”Base 64″gives 1.3 million results with the first being fromWikipedia.(3) Use your favorite editor to read your outputfile, copy it to the system clipboard, and then,using your favorite e-mail program (actually easy towrite your own if keep down on the GUI stuff andotherwise likely better than any of the commercialones because you will easily have much better accessto your old e-mail for searching, etc.), pull itinto the e-mail body, and send it.(4) For receiving such e-mail, reverse the processabove.The C programs are short.Should check some fine points about what to do aboutvulnerabilities from short e-mail messages.Likely the above will do a lot to keep the NSA, the dark.A pair of short programs in C for such en/decryptionin open source with good documentation and sampleinput/output and a similarly short utility in C forpicking public/private keys would be good to have.E.g., just do NOT have anything to do with ‘easy touse, GUI-oriented, plug-ins, add-ons, to Outlook,etc. e-mail programs’. Instead, depend on threeshort command line programs. Also, download onlythe source and documentation and compile the C codeyourself.For me, for now, I’m working on the code of mystartup.I want my Web site code working by 1/1/14. I gotthe TCP/IP code for server-server communications inmy server farm working and solved the problem of SQLServer connection strings. If I’m lucky, the Website code be working later today.Then, do some testing (all the code has beenthoroughly tested as smaller ‘units’), load someinitial data, ‘play with the site’, do a fastcritical review, load more initial data, do theroutine things of static IP address, domain name,trademark, tax ID, business checking account, etc.,go live, get publicity, get users, run ads, getrevenue, and try to grow it. If I can half fill myliving room upload bandwidth, then I should be ingood shape, e.g., able to fund the growth of mybusiness and in line for a new Corvette and house Iown. If the whole world really likes my site, andthat is my intention, then I’ll be worth billions.Then maybe I’ll worry about keeping the NSA out ofmy life, house, business, computer, laundry basket,compost pile, toilet, and septic tank.For now, one of the best ways to reduce ‘terrorism’is to cut the budget of the NSA.

  6. Ton

    When I look at this page on my computer it says there are 92 comments. But when I click on the comments, I only see 6. Is this happening to anybody else?

    1. fredwilson

      Yes. It’s a bug