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The Rise of Feudal Computer Security 147

Posted by Soulskill
from the fanboy-is-now-a-liegeman dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "In the old days, traditional computer security centered around users. However, Bruce Schneier writes that now some of us have pledged our allegiance to Google (using Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Docs, and Android phones) while others have pledged allegiance to Apple (using Macintosh laptops, iPhones, iPads; and letting iCloud automatically synchronize and back up everything) while others of us let Microsoft do it all. 'These vendors are becoming our feudal lords, and we are becoming their vassals. We might refuse to pledge allegiance to all of them — or to a particular one we don't like. Or we can spread our allegiance around. But either way, it's becoming increasingly difficult to not pledge allegiance to at least one of them.' Classical medieval feudalism depended on overlapping, complex, hierarchical relationships. Today we users must trust the security of these hardware manufacturers, software vendors, and cloud providers and we choose to do it because of the convenience, redundancy, automation, and shareability. 'In this new world of computing, we give up a certain amount of control, and in exchange we trust that our lords will both treat us well and protect us from harm (PDF). Not only will our software be continually updated with the newest and coolest functionality, but we trust it will happen without our being overtaxed by fees and required upgrades.' In this system, we have no control over the security provided by our feudal lords. Like everything else in security, it's a trade-off. We need to balance that trade-off. 'In Europe, it was the rise of the centralized state and the rule of law that undermined the ad hoc feudal system; it provided more security and stability for both lords and vassals. But these days, government has largely abdicated its role in cyberspace, and the result is a return to the feudal relationships of yore,' concludes Schneier, adding that perhaps it's time for government to create the regulatory environments that protect us vassals. 'Otherwise, we really are just serfs.'"
An anonymous reader provides a contrary opinion:

"The proposed analogy is wrong. Rather than feudal lords being replaced by a semi-accountable, presumably representative government, asking the government to take over would be going back to the having just AT&T as the sole provider of telecommunications, with private ownership of phones prohibited. It would be a reversion from an open and competitive market (where those who fail to provide security can be abandoned freely, the exact opposite of a feudal situation where serfs were forbidden to leave their masters and breaking oaths of obedience would lead to hit series on HBO) to a single "provider" which cannot be abandoned or ignored.

Monopolies, in general, suck, and without an external force to shore them up, they tend to be short lived. I remember when Lotus and WordPerfect and dBase were "unassailable", and people were wondering if the government should force these companies to be more "competitive" somehow. Then it was Windows, and particularly Explorer, that was going to control the world because "no one could compete". Now it's Google and Apple. Either these companies actually provide the security they promise, or they lose business to someone who will. The fear of the "feudal lords" failing to offer the security they promise is a false one, because they have no actual hold if they fail to deliver the goods.

The role of government in this arena is making sure that companies are held accountable for broken promises, that they pay the costs for data loss and security breaches. ... The government should not be determining what security is acceptable, because governments and regulations cannot possibly keep up with ever-changing realities."
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The Rise of Feudal Computer Security

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 04, 2012 @03:29PM (#42183861)

    These people who fall into the vendor lock in do it on their own free will, what rights does the government have regulating their decisions?

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by logjon (1411219)
      No shit. People want government involved in literally fucking everything at this point.
      • by spire3661 (1038968) on Tuesday December 04, 2012 @03:37PM (#42183997) Journal
        The government is ALREADY involved in literally everything. Better ot realize that and shape it to our own ends, rather then pretend it doesnt exist.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by chispito (1870390)

          The government is ALREADY involved in literally everything. Better ot realize that and shape it to our own ends, rather then pretend it doesnt exist.

          In what way is that better than advocating for a limited government?

          • by AK Marc (707885)
            Because those who advocate limited government grow it when given a chance.
            • If all you elect to office are politicians, then all you will have in office are politicians.

              The people could stop voting for the lizards, but they do not, because they are afraid that if they do, the wrong lizard might get in...

      • No shit. People want government involved in literally fucking everything at this point.

        But we need them to be involved in everything. Who else will protect us from people making wildly inaccurate historical comparisons online?

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 04, 2012 @04:14PM (#42184487)

      The government is a collective implementation of society. It has the rights that the whole of society gives it to look out for the common good. Rather than having to have individual people make their own mistakes or get individually conned, the government is an institution granted the rights to protect *your* rights.

      It isn't the government regulating your decision; it's the government providing an environment in which as many options as possible are safe for you to choose from, so that you can specialize in something else and still be protected without having to worry about being swindled or conned out of giving up your own rights that have already been recognized by the collective society.

      You can certainly argue that it's an idealistic framework that often doesn't meet such a mark in practice, and you can argue that the government can wind up doing its own share of swindling, but it's wrong to implicitly suggest that the government needs "rights" to be valid about doing what it does.

      • by phlinn (819946)
        Filtering the set of decisions I can make IS regulating my decisions. If I want to smoke, so be it. If I want to eat to excess, so be it.

        There's a major problem with your invocation of Society giving rights to government is that Society doesn't have rights or preferences, individuals do. You can claim society wants whatever a majority of it's members want, but that doesn't make it so. The averaging function you use (probably majority rule) to ascribe a preference to an abstraction such as society is
    • And the people who hack vendor locked products do so of their own free will too. What rights does the government have regulating their actions?

  • by Minwee (522556) <dcr@neverwhen.org> on Tuesday December 04, 2012 @03:31PM (#42183903) Homepage
    Admit it, Bruce. This is all just an elaborate setup to excuse you for using the word "Microserfs".
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Choice is the ultimate power. Yes, we give up some control and say in the use of data about us to use these services but no one forces you to do so. If in fact you are concerned with such services (which abound), you can always create and run your own infrastructure and go back in time about 10 years ...

    Good luck with that!

    • by Anonymous Coward

      you kinda made his point for him. you admit that yes its your choice, but to chose *not* to go with the new system, you immediately fall back 10 years. for some people, that isn't an option (particularly businesses).

    • by DeepBlueDiver (166057) on Tuesday December 04, 2012 @04:22PM (#42184591)

      In fact anyone capable to run his own infrastructure already had most of this services more than 10 years ago.

      Webmail, file storage accessible from anywhere, files synchronization between computers thru Internet, remote encrypted backups... all of this is quite trivial to setup and can be tailored to your needs in such a way that you won't even think of going back to "generic" services.

      Don't get me wrong, all this "cloud" thing has been great to bring to the masses what we nerds always had. But I have yet to see one of this services successfully replacing what I already provide to myself with just an Internet connection, a router, a NAS, and tiny server.

      • by peragrin (659227)

        That's is just it it isn't trivial to setup. for most it costs tens of thousands of dollars.

        Take drop box. Show me two apps one server and one client that uses the same client app across multiple platforms that allows for easy, secure syncing to not just one server, but any server I choose?

        Show me an FTP client that works as seemlessly, or as securely as drop box.

        Sure the tech has been around for decades(I setup my first FTP server in 94. ) I got hacked more times than I can remember.

        The problem is techi

        • by bananaquackmoo (1204116) on Tuesday December 04, 2012 @06:10PM (#42186001)

          Take drop box. Show me two apps one server and one client that uses the same client app across multiple platforms that allows for easy, secure syncing to not just one server, but any server I choose?

          I'll take that open-source bet. http://owncloud.org/ [owncloud.org] I'm already running copies.

        • That's is just it it isn't trivial to setup. for most it costs tens of thousands of dollars.

          Perhaps if you buy from Apple. Let's use a popular site like Newegg (I'm not affiliated, just providing a familiar link) and browse to the NAS [newegg.com] section. There are many listings under $1000. Just how much data are you backing up? For large volumes you may want to consider tape [newegg.com].

          Take drop box. Show me two apps one server and one client that uses the same client app across multiple platforms that allows for easy, secure syncing to not just one server, but any server I choose?

          The functionality found in Rsync [wikipedia.org] will handle this task across multiple platforms. Yes, there are GUIs written for it as well.

          Show me an FTP client that works as seemlessly, or as securely as drop box.

          Since you're comparing apples to oranges (FTP to Dropbox) look at WinSCP [winscp.net]. Connection requirements, your credent

          • by raque (457836)

            ROTFLOL

            You're kidding, right? I hope this is sarcasm and irony. It is the techie answer referred to in: The problem is techies don't want to, and can't think of how to make their software easy and safe for non techies to use.

            And yes, the engineers who made Dropbox may not be techies, if techies are the ones who whine on /. instead of solving the problem.

            • And yes, the engineers who made Dropbox may not be techies,

              In your opinion, who do you think writes software? Would you consider these people technical, why not?

              And yes, the engineers who made Dropbox may not be techies, if techies are the ones who whine on /. instead of solving the problem.

              Posting to /. makes you a techie? That's about as descriptive of a label as being a member of Anonymous. Since you're posting here you must be a techie too by your own definition since you're not solving any problems with your post (its arguably whining) right? Or are you referring to the other poster who can't decide if he wants NAS, FTP, Dropbox, or Cloud hosting and makes a dubious claim about these bei

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Say what you want about Apple, Microsoft, Google, etc .... It's not like they make you agree to some sort of user agreement to use their products - you know, the Take It or Leave it type of agreement where you have no leeway in protecting your interests.

    God, the headline makes it sounds like we, the consumer, are powerless as to what those organizations do.

    Geeze!

    • The problem is if you don't like any of their agreements, you just can't use technology. Yes we have a right to choose which product we want to use, but we are not offered the ability to use anything without handing over some fundamental right in the long run. The only option is to become a Luddite and live in a cave. There is no Gypsy option yet for technology and associated cloud services.

      • by DogDude (805747)
        Yes we have a right to choose which product we want to use, but we are not offered the ability to use anything without handing over some fundamental right in the long run.

        Like what, exactly?
      • by Kjella (173770) on Tuesday December 04, 2012 @05:25PM (#42185525) Homepage

        The problem is if you don't like any of their agreements, you just can't use technology. Yes we have a right to choose which product we want to use, but we are not offered the ability to use anything without handing over some fundamental right in the long run. The only option is to become a Luddite and live in a cave. There is no Gypsy option yet for technology and associated cloud services.

        Oh please, you can do pretty much everything if you either a) host it yourself or b) rent some space in a co-lo. I don't store my things "in the cloud", I store them on my HDDs with backups just like I did before the cloud and social media became the new hype. You don't have to blog on Facebook, you can easily get a free blog on your own terms. If you don't like Spotify then iTunes and Amazon didn't go anywhere. And if there's no free alternative to iEverywhere or gEverywhere it's because nobody's bothered to build it on top of Linux and Android - last I checked the source code to both was free and so was the SDKs so free free to start, rather than whine about it.

        Most people just don't want to manage their own computers, least not in the sense you and I mean. They're perfectly happy with an Apple or Google "appliance" that runs 100000+ apps. Why point fingers at the corporations when 99% handed over control voluntarily? It's like saying democracy needs regulation because 99% make stupid decisions. You can't regulate people into caring about the things you care about, because you'd have to be blind and deaf to not have noticed the wailing every time Facebook changes their privacy policy. Yet people keep using it. Same way there's nothing preventing people from installing Linux, but 99% don't do it anyway. Most people simply don't care if their computer comes as a big binary blob.

        • by AK Marc (707885)
          You can do it, but that doesn't make it legal. Using all the free stuff to build your own cloud will likely violate 500+ patents. Nobody would know or care, but if you were ever persecuted for anything, they could take everything you own or ever will own.
        • The problem is that you're putting computer and networking services in a very special place.

          Sure, you can manage computers like that. You can cook healthy and tasty meals accounting for any dietary restrictions by starting with raw, fresh, ingredients. You can do maintenance and some repairs on your car, even a modern one. You can do your own plumbing and electrical work. All of these require time and learning, and sometimes talent in addition. I can go on.

          And, at some point, almost everybody's goi

    • Geeze!

      I think it should be be spelled haze. It comes from "Jesus", which as we all know is pronounced HEI-SUS [wiktionary.org].

  • Exaggerated (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Extremus (1043274) on Tuesday December 04, 2012 @03:33PM (#42183929)

    I find the comparison a bit exaggerated, but I agree with the conclusions. We need legislation to cover the relation between social agents and information keepers. For example, any company should allow for any customer to migrate all her data to another service, without the information loosing its original structure. The custumers should be also safeguarded against information companies going bust with their data. Etc.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Redmancometh (2676319)
      Legislate away the right to proprietary technology? You're so far left you fell off...of the wing?
      • by denis-The-menace (471988) on Tuesday December 04, 2012 @03:54PM (#42184219)

        Like MS' Open Office XML (An I$O standard with patents)

        Like the MP4 codec (An I$O standard with patents)

        Etc.

        That way the government can demand that all their products they buy follow the ISO standards and nobody is force to use it /s

    • by Anonymous Coward

      The openness of the data is the key point. I'm not sure how much regulation needs to be involved, but people need to be aware of how locked-in their data is if they choose to be a vassal of one of these cyber-lords. Of the three, I've only seen Google taking much action about giving you ways to export your data. (whether its easily usable afterwards is an open question... unless you want to build your own replacements for all of Google's services. I doubt it will happen that we have cross-compatible stan

    • by Phrogman (80473)

      Agreed. Companies already have a lot of regulations that limit their activities, responsibilities etc in doing business. Its not unreasonable to assert that if a company is controlling my data, that I have a right to move that data to a different controller, and that the original data will not be retained by the first party.
      After all, I am required to retain certain data for a certain period of time if I am doing business. Its just another area that needs to be covered by clear regulations.

      Mind you, I don't

    • Indeed. Already, anything DRMed, and by extension, anything in a proprietary format, exists at the mercy of the supplier.
      Now, anything "in the cloud", whetever its format and/or DRM, even open-format un-DRMed, too.

      We need laws to protect our rights. Basic stuff, like DRMed stuff must be opened w/ opener in escrow in case of service discontinuation; proprietary formats must be documented too, in escrow if needs be, and cloud providers must provide one-click backup solutions.

    • Re:Exaggerated (Score:4, Interesting)

      by vlm (69642) on Tuesday December 04, 2012 @04:02PM (#42184327)

      The custumers should be also safeguarded against information companies going bust with their data.

      Talk to the construction trades about being "bonded and insured" (before or after talking about unionization, and talking about apprenticeship, of course)

      Its a simplification, but if you contract out to a bonded and insured contractor who goes out of business (lawsuit, bankruptcy, death, whatever) the bonding company will pay to get "someone else" to do the work for you at no additional cost. Obviously the risk to the insurer depends on the scale of work and the health of the contractor and length of job... I would imagine the mighty GOOG would pay less for bonding than a dotcom.

    • by DogDude (805747)
      The custumers should be also safeguarded against information companies going bust with their data.

      We already have an extensive legal system in place that covers contracts. We don't need more laws to cover the same thing.

      For example, any company should allow for any customer to migrate all her data to another service, without the information loosing its original structure.

      That's just silly. "Loosing" its "original structure"? What does that even mean?
      • by vlm (69642)

        That's just silly. "Loosing" its "original structure"? What does that even mean?

        He means data that was entered free form or possibly gathered without the customers knowledge has to be exported with a documented copy of the proprietary database schema. It'll never fly.

        Now what might work would be a requirement for all data exports to be completely non-proprietary non-binary well formed XML. You might not get their DB table design but at least you'll get each row.

        • by DogDude (805747)
          Now what might work would be a requirement for all data exports to be completely non-proprietary non-binary well formed XML. You might not get their DB table design but at least you'll get each row.

          Just putting in in XML doesn't accomplish anything. Besides, what kind of apps don't allow for exports of some kind? I hear people complaining about "lock in" all of the time, in terms of data, but I don't have a single business application that doesn't allow a data export of some kind. The format that it c
          • by aiht (1017790)

            Now what might work would be a requirement for all data exports to be completely non-proprietary non-binary well formed XML. You might not get their DB table design but at least you'll get each row. Just putting in in XML doesn't accomplish anything. Besides, what kind of apps don't allow for exports of some kind? I hear people complaining about "lock in" all of the time, in terms of data, but I don't have a single business application that doesn't allow a data export of some kind. The format that it can be exported to really doesn't matter, since you'll always have to do significant work to get data moved from one application/platform to another.

            Any idea how to get a .eml (plain text, original MIME source) email out of Outlook?
            I'd rather not view source / copy / paste for every single email.
            Actually, does it even support viewing the source?

    • For example, any company should allow for any customer to migrate all her data to another service, without the information loosing its original structure.

      This goal is nearly impossible. Are you going to legislate the data structure for every SaaS out there? How on earth is congress going to keep up with the rapidly changing landscape that is silicon valley?

      The U.S. congress was designed to move slowly. It's a bit like a qwerty keyboard. They've already bitten off more than can chew, as they've shown time and again recently.

      • by AK Marc (707885)
        You don't need the structure legislated, just that every row is exported without deletion and column names are retained/inserted. Most databases do something like that out of the box. I'm never seen a crappy proprietary CRM that couldn't at least export to CSV.
    • Regulated services at best provide consistent, mediocre service at the highest rate the regulator will let them charge; usually they provide the minimum they can get away without getting fined too much. Ask yourself how happy are you with the other regulated services in your life like land-line phone carrier, cable television provider, electric company, natural gas company, etc.?

      I thought not.

      Cheers,
      Dave

  • by Anonymous Coward

    And I'm just.... serfing the web.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 04, 2012 @03:35PM (#42183963)

    I thing that we're all Cerfs.

  • But these days, government has largely abdicated its role in cyberspace, and the result is a return to the feudal relationships of yore [...]

    Does this mean that, having been born a serf under Apple's demesne, I will have to live my entire life as such—and my children, too! Oh my God, how did I not see this coming!

  • Yes, some of these data companies are getting a bit out of hand, but is it time for the government to step in? You, of all people, know better.
  • by characterZer0 (138196) on Tuesday December 04, 2012 @03:38PM (#42184007)

    I have chosen to avoid any trust in or allegiance to Google, Apple, Facebook, or Microsoft. I have to trust my hardware, but I can switch that easily enough. I chose to trust Debian, but could easily enough switch that too. Everybody is free to make these decisions. I can use end-to-end encryption to hide my data from anyone else.

    I am at the mercy of my ISP. If they fail to route properly I have no recourse and no alternative faster than 56k dial-up. Network neutrality and fairness from recipients of government-granted monopolies is where the regulation is required.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Regulation yes and also self-help. http://thefnf.org/about/ [thefnf.org]

    • Fixing problems caused by regulation (government-granted monopolies) with more regulation. Something seems wrong with that.

      Maybe coming up with a solution such that the whole government-granted monopoly thing is no longer "necessary" would be better?

      • A good solution would be to have the government-granted last-mile monopoly be as limited as possible - only handling the last mile. Allow one company to handle the last mile and terminate the connections in a central office. Then other companies can provide the internet connection from there. The company handling the last mile cannot also be an ISP.

  • I try and run my own IT Domain services (for my own files,) I will NOT use Google Docs, or similar services. I have my own Apache servers, my own CMS, my own Domain Controllers, a Dumb Phone, my games are on my own hard drive, I run my own MySQL services, I do as much as I can myself, my connections to my friends use IPSec, if I get an (Android) tablet, it will be merely something that talks to my network, that I load my applications on from my network via 802.11.

    • by xaxa (988988)

      That's a significant investment in time.

      I used to run my own email server, when I was 18. I ran it for a couple of years, but migrated to Google Apps as soon as the free version was launched. I no longer have to worry if my server goes offline, or if there are security updates, or updates to spam filters, or my email being marked as spam, or all the rest.

      Since I'm using my own domain, if a better service comes along I can migrate.

  • I say, declare your independence [debian.org].

    • by Anonymous Coward
      Yes let's all pledge allegiance to a hyper-political organization beholden to extremists [stallman.org]. Sounds fun!
    • I pledge allegiance to the mighty pufferfish [openbsd.org].

      And if there is something I don't like, I'll write my own or fork.

  • Oh Hugh Pickens? (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Is that the same Just Say No to College [slashdot.org] Hugh Pickens? Telling us where to trust computer security now?
  • I don't know if anybody else has noticed, but all sorts of things these days are moving to, ahem, "the Cloud", without anybody asking for such functionality. Many PC games won't work without a "Cloud Client" anymore. Steam. Origin. UPlay. Take your pick. The gaming Cloud Clients even warns you that "your save games are out of sync with the cloud" because, um, you played the last 2 sessions without, er, actually going online to do it. ---- Then there is the creative software from Adobe, Autodesk and others.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      The gaming Cloud Clients even warns you that "your save games are out of sync with the cloud" because, um, you played the last 2 sessions without, er, actually going online to do it.

      You mean it's warning you that if you reinstall your box, go over to your friends house, or buy a new computers, your progress will be out of date because you're paranoid?

      Well, you've sold me. WE MUST STOP VALVE FROM PROVIDING USEFUL SERVICES IMMEDIATELY

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The Pentagram: Google, Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, and Twitter.
      To us (the serfs) it looks like they are in competition, but they are working together to control the entire world. The Pentagram's power and control knows no boundaries, it fears no military. They have centers of operation spread throughout the world, it will not harm them if some are taken out. Look how much change they have been a part of in the world during the last 5 years. Cheap cellphones and Twitter have overthrown governments. The world

    • by raque (457836)

      I need to point out that the order of events in the OP may be backwards. Consider: since they (as noted in the OP) are all using the same basic technologies to achieve the same basic results (wealth, power, etc,) they will tend to come to the same sort of solutions. After that they will simply copy or steal the more successful of the detailed solutions. No central authority yet, same result, we are pushed into the Cloud. Once enough serfs are in the cloud then the Central Authority will arise.

      This would ten

  • About 10 years ago a post on /. began with, "If you are responsible for computer security, you can't be too secure. A shotgun will help." Article went on with more about guns, "if your server room is being approached by a band of swarmy thugs with boxcutters, you are to pull out the company manual saying 'firearms are not allowed.'?" Writer went on more of same theme, "If choosing a handgun, be sure your wimpy arm can handle it. A 22 slug in the gut is more effective than a 357 in the ceiling." Not sure wha

    • by vlm (69642)

      Regarding security, how does companies like Coca Cola been able to keep their formula secret? Obviously not stored in The Cloud. Any techniques that can be applied for other safeguards? Besides limiting it to just three people.

      I know how the coca cola formula secrecy works and you're not going to like the solution. Homeopathy. No I'm not kidding. Any wanna be chemist probably gets to analyze soda of their choice in quant chem analysis and I did just that about 20 years ago. The fact that its 99.9999% water, HFCS (back then, it was sugar), caffeine, salt, standard sanitation and preservation chems, and food coloring is no secret nor are the ratios. There is a strange cross between legal fiction and homeopathy that if you run

  • So... we want the government to regulate security and storage, when the government is, most likely, precisely whom we do NOT want reading our mail or combing through our files. Does no one remember the Clipper Chip?

    The proposed analogy is wrong. Rather than feudal lords being replaced by a semi-accountable, presumably representative government, asking the government to take over would be going back to the having just AT&T as the sole provider of telecommunications, with private ownership of phones prohi

  • by Anonymous Coward
    In new market, vendor lock-in is important to vendors because competition tends to crop up fast because the customer exceptions are low and therefore easier and cheaper to meet. The bar for entry is low. Later, as the market matures and the number of vendors stabilizes, the most valuable features tend to be across all vendors. Eventually, the only way to increase customers is to take them from someone else. Also, customers will start to wise up and want interoperability. Lock-in becomes less valuable to ven
  • by mveloso (325617) on Tuesday December 04, 2012 @04:05PM (#42184373)

    You're responsible for your own security. You don't pledge allegiance to a vendor, you use their wares until it doesn't satisfy your personal requirements.

    This sort of metaphor, while poetic, is counterproductive.

    • by Microlith (54737)

      You're responsible for your own security.

      Even when the security of the platform works against you?

      You don't pledge allegiance to a vendor, you use their wares until it doesn't satisfy your personal requirements.

      Far too many people place convenience and flash above personal security and privacy. This has the nasty side effect of impacting those who do care and stripping their ability to demand (and get) the ability to assume that responsibility.

    • Pledge thine allegiance to Sir Ronald of Paul. He shall grant us Liberty

  • and don't forget to photograph the JCL stack in the proper order first, because if you mung that up, we won't tell you.

    seems I've heard this before.

  • HELP! HELP! I'm being repressed!
    • by PPH (736903)

      Setting: Two peasants are out working in the mud in Farmville.
      Mark Zuckerberg rides up.

      Peasant 1: Who's that then?

      Peasant 2: I dunno, must be a king.

      Peasant 1: Why?

      Peasant 2: He hasn't got shit all over him.

      Peasant 1: Ooooh! I didn't know we had a king. I thought we were an autonomous collective ...

  • I guess this makes Bruce Schneier a courtier?
  • ...at the end of the day, I trust Google (and even Apple) far more than my government. My relationship with them is contractual, whereas my relationship with the government is through the barrel of a gun.

  • It looks to me that bunching all of those vendors in one bundle is a bit risquè. In effect, some of them are selling something that they do not own.

    ...mmmmm, where to begin? This is Slashdot, so let's start with Microsoft. I never saw, read of heard about a suicide that lasted longer, unless the Dynosaurs killed themselves using farts to start a climate change. XP is still dominating their cash cows, and lo and behold, the serfs have fought back: "yes, come back when you REALLY will cut support. Line
  • by dwye (1127395) on Tuesday December 04, 2012 @05:05PM (#42185247)

    Classical medieval feudalism depended on overlapping, complex, hierarchical relationships.

    Wrong. It depended on simple relationships (lord {=} vassal); it started to fall apart when the relationships became complicated (look up The Hundred Years War for a nasty case of its collapse)(see the Thirty Years War for its final collapse).

    Anyway, it always was feudalism. Who owned their own computers before the Altair? In the early days of the PC era, most computer users still were primarily attached to work machines. The Internet was run by personal relationships between the Great Lords (i.e., the administrators of the major Internet nodes), sealed with little more binding at the beginning than a handshake (which was how Jon Postel got stuck running the DNS root node for years). Given that users can still choose what Schneier thinks of as feudal lords, that makes users minor barons, rather than serfs (no serf could do anything except run away from their lord, or launch futile revolts once a century or so).

    Would Bruce Schneier really prefer it run by men with guns and bayonets enforcing the wills of THEIR lords (swayed, no doubt by bribes or job offers for after they leave Federal service), launching wars against each other like 20th Century govenrments, etc? Please, give me benign neglect, any day.

  • An incomplete list of types of vendors and organizations I have to trust not to be stupid or evil with my information: 1) bank 2) credit card(s) 3) doctor 4) health insurance 5) state and federal governments 6) employer Yes, I am not necessarily locked into any of these but changing some are more of a burden than others. Microsoft, Google and Apple are only recent players in this game.
  • While I do think there is a some truth to your basic argument, we become vassals by our own free choice. We can be with one today, and choose to walk away tomorrow.

    Granted, it could be difficult. I still know people that can't give up AOL.

  • ... made me think this was going to be about putting spammers heads on pikes outside the castle gate.

  • Kind of shitty article though. I thought Bruce was going to talk about how some security researchers won't release their findings to the world, keeping the security holes secret so they're less likely to be patched, esp. those cyber-"security" teams of governments themselves... I run my own servers for my email and services that really matter to me and my family. That, and there's no such thing as a client or server, really... My, logs show that grandma just synched more photos to our private distributed "freenet" cloud. She probably did that by plugging in her camera to her PC -- the sync automatically scans her albums folder.

    Oh, I might be pledging alegence to Free Software! Oh no! Why, whatever will I do if Linux becomes a fiefdom? Why, I'll Fork it, or use BSD, both of which run the important shit just fine... Also, my VOIP system connects directly between my family's houses avoiding even using a 3rd party service for in-family calling. I

    I thought it was supposed to be increasingly difficult not to pledge alegence to MS, Apple or Google. It's actually getting easier to NOT do so if you ask me and mine. Woops, I'm sorry. Didn't mean to actually prove anyone's article completely wrong. I would say to Bruce that he needs to clarify that it's only getting more difficult for ignorant people who don't care about what he's talking about to avoid...

  • Something like FreedomBox running on hardware WE own, and the software tools that allow people to migrate their data trivially from the feudal lords and upload it onto their own devices to run their own clouds. While there is software that allow people to run such service and manage our own data, these tools tend to be harder to use than the solutions that Google or Apple may use in their services (there are exceptions). Furthermore, while the technically inclined among us may take the plunge and create our

If the facts don't fit the theory, change the facts. -- Albert Einstein

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