Moore's Law is the enemy of privacy

Security guru Bruce Schneier claims processing power has increased to such a degree that data has become a 'pollutant'

No stranger to controversy, security expert Bruce Schneier was happy to take a swipe at Moore's Law in front of an audience at the University of Southern California on Tuesday.

Schneier, founder and chief technology offier of Counterpane Internet Security, argued that the biggest threat to privacy was the sheer ease with which information can be gathered to such an extent that data was now "a pollutant".

This availability was down to a number of factors, he said. "To look at it, Moore's law is actually a friend of intrusive tools," Schneier argued.

"As the cost of data storage gets cheaper, as the cost of data collection gets cheaper, more intrusion, more surveillance is possible," he said.

Surveillance technology has been developing to the extent that it is becoming the major threat to our society, argued Schneier. "The cameras are everywhere and you can still see them. Come back in 10 years and you won't see them any more."

A big issue is wholesale surveillance, Schneier argued. "Surveillance is 'follow that car', wholesale surveillance is 'follow every car'," he said.

"Wholesale surveillance used to be impossible, now it is possible. We've seen this in the UK where the police, in order to find somebody, started taking DNA samples of everybody."

Schneier pointed to the issue of technology as a social disrupter. "This whole weapons of mass destruction argument is all about leverage," he said. "People are terrified that a few radicals can do much more damage than they could 20 years ago, and in 20 years' time they will be able to do so much more."

You can listen to Scheier's talk here.