Post Munk Debate Show - transcript
"First of all, I think it’s fiction that they say, “Well we only collect information on foreigners.” Who cares? The U.S. will collect information on Canadians, Canadians will collect information on Americans, and vice versa with the Five Eyes, each being each other’s eyes."
Continuing on from here, a review of the debate from a Canadian perspective. Immediately after the debate in Toronto, the conversation continued online. Hosted by Dr. Ron Deibert, Director of the Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto, and joined by Dr. Ann Cavoukian, Ontario’s Information and Privacy Commissioner, as well as Joseph Menn, Technology Projects Reporter with Thomson Reuters. Transcript below fold.
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Post Munk Debate Show
Streamed live on May 2, 2014
Ron Deibert: Okay. I think we’re live. I hope we’re live. This is Ron Deibert. I’m the director of the Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto, and we just had a wonderful debate here, the Munk Debates, with Michael Hayden, Alan Dershowitz, Glenn Greenwald and Alexis Ohanian. And joining me for this discussion is Joseph Menn, who is a reporter with Reuters and the author of Fatal System Error, and Ann Cavoukian, who is still, as of today, I believe, the Privacy Commissioner of Ontario, having had a very long, distinguished career in that position. Can you both hear me, first of all?
Ann Cavoukian: Yes. Hi.
Joseph Menn: Yes.
Ron Deibert: Okay, awesome, awesome. Okay, Joe, I want to turn to you first. You’re in LA. You watched this over the stream. Can you give us your general reaction to the debate?
Joseph Menn: Sure. Well, first of all, it’s a pretty rare occurrence – you know, just looking at Hayden and Greenwald, having them in the same room is pretty great. I would say I think they both gave pretty articulate defenses of their positions. They got the sort of the big emotional stuff without getting way into the details, and it was fun to watch. It's a really serious topic and you don’t normally see the engagement, it's through the filter of a newspaper or an internet piece, and just the sound bites on a talk show don’t really do it. So it was really nice to see overall.
More specifically I thought Dershowitz may have actually hurt his own cause when he said that what you do is you measure the intrusiveness against the effectiveness, and that’s what you should do. Because I think Greenwald and others have made a pretty good case about how intrusive this stuff is. I think people really feel that, and the effectiveness, well, you’ve got some Republican appointed judges and some members of Congress saying, “Can’t really find a terrorist plot with this stuff.” And if you’re going to hang it all on terrorism, it hurts if you’re saying that’s what you should judge us by, and I think it may have been a mistake for Dershowitz to bring that up.
Ron Deibert: Well, we’ll definitely get back to some of those points. So, Ann, tell us your general reaction.
Ann Cavoukian: It was certainly a very spirited debate, and I was enthralled of course. Glenn Greenwald I thought was superb. Obviously my bias towards privacy tended to lean in his direction.
But I want to point out some of the things that I thought were missing. Not surprisingly, Mr. Hayden’s comments, for example, and he would talk about the effectiveness of various activities and the NSA is only doing limited activities and they only go in when there’s a requirement. There could have been ways to construct what they wanted to do in terms of the bulk metadata. When you listen to people like William Binney, who worked at the NSA for many years, brilliant cryptographer, mathematician. I have had the pleasure of working with him recently. And he said that he had told people back then, 2000, etcetera, that, “Let’s encrypt the data. Okay, you want to collect all this data, you want to engage in this massive surveillance because you genuinely think there’ll be some benefit. Let’s encrypt it and then in the event that we have reasonable and probable grounds to think that there’s something going on, then we decrypt it. We develop a system where everything is not out there in plain text available and accessible.” There’s so many ways of doing it.
And Dershowitz, he kept talking about, as Joe was saying, the effectiveness, “We have to balance the intrusiveness versus the effectiveness, and if some people’s privacy is impacted, well so be it, you weigh that against how effective it is.”
Are you kidding me? There have been two independent presidential review bodies. President Obama appointed PCLOB, the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, under David Medine, and also appointed the presidential review board. Two completely different independent bodies, both came out with reports with virtually the same types of recommendations, saying, 1) Very little effectiveness, if any, to this massive surveillance. 2) A lot of potential harm in terms of false positives, innocent people being marked. And 3) Why are we engaging in this at all? There isn’t the kind of independent oversight – there is the FISA court, which is certainly better than what we have in Canada, but it’s one-sided, so they’ve made the recommendation, at least appoint a public advocate, but more importantly they’re all saying get rid of bulk data collection.
Ron Deibert: Right. Joe, I mean there’s a real difference of opinion around what metadata represents, and you heard Hayden characterizing it as something that’s in a lockbox and the NSA goes up to a transom, and says, you know, is it this number or that number, and Greenwald on the other hand talking about how actually metadata is very revealing, citing Ed Felten. I tend to agree with them. I think that what we do with all of this data that we leave as a digital exhaust now wherever we go – which is unprecedented in human history. Who has access to it, where is it stored? I mean this is the fundamental question of liberal democracy. What did you think of the disagreements there around metadata collection?
Joseph Menn: Well, I would have liked to, you know, if I was in charge I would have given each side another 15 minutes on just that point. Because I think it’s a huge one, and I think there’s a problem in that, as massive as the amount of information that has come out about the surveillance program, we still don’t, it’s mostly been about capability and collection and not really about how it’s used. They still have those secrets. And maybe they’ll come out, maybe the NSA will be more forthcoming about what they’ve done with it. Because you actually want your intelligence agency to have awesome capability. You just want them to use it judiciously, and maybe some oversight would be nice.
And on the bulk stuff, I think it’s pretty obvious that metadata tells incredible intimate detail about people’s lives. There’s somebody, I believe it was at the EFF, who said that they know you called the suicide hotline but they don’t know what the conversation was about. I think it’s clearly pretty invasive, and to say it’s not surveillance, uh... you know, it looks more like surveillance than a streetlight camera, and I think that was a good counterpoint.
Ron Deibert: That was a great counterpoint, I thought, by Greenwald where he remarked, you know, “Sorry, a surveillance camera is just not what we do online where our whole lives are exposed, our social networks and so on.”
You know, one of the things that struck me, being a Canadian, the debate was here in Toronto, was the absence of any real discussion about the contrast with what’s happening in the United States, and even how the United States intelligence agencies approach foreigners differently from domestic collection, but also the lack of any discussion about what’s going on with signals intelligence here in Canada. Ann, what did you think about that? Because I know we were concerned about that leading into this debate, will the Canadian dimension to this be brought up, and what about foreigners?
Ann Cavoukian: And I hate to have to admit this, but I think we do a far worse job in Canada than the United States. And you might say, how is that possible? The reason it’s possible is because CSEC, the Communications Security Establishment of Canada, the equivalent to the NSA here, has so little oversight, virtually I would say no independent oversight, and we don’t know what they’re doing. In the States, what has happened as a result of Mr. Snowden’s revelations, you’ve had a presidential review body, you have the PCLOB body, two independent bodies reporting, you have all this information and transparency. President Obama has taken to the airwaves. They’re talking about it publicly. What have we done in Canada?
Ron Deibert: Nothing
Ann Cavoukian: Let me think. It’s called a shameful silence! No one has taken to the airwaves.
Finally the head of the CSEC went on the TVs, I don’t know, a month ago, a few months ago, and said virtually nothing, said don’t worry. It's basically a “trust us” model. And the problem is, he was offended, I’ve written to him several times, he was offended that I was saying he was doing a poor job. He thought I was criticizing him. I wasn’t doing that at all. I was criticizing the structure which lacks any independence. He reports to the Minister of National Defence – this is the commissioner. The Minister of National Defence runs CSEC. So look at how circular it is. There’s no independence whatsoever. Parliament doesn’t have access to any information. No one is getting any information.
So, in terms of transparency, we have far less than the United States. So I think we should be ashamed of that.
Ron Deibert: Well, and also a remarkable contrast, I think, is what happens with respect to the private sector here in Canada, where we’ve seen telecommunications companies, it’s been disclosed recently through ATIP requests and questionnaires. First of all, they don’t tell us what they’re doing at all, no comment, but then we find out through other means that they’re actually sharing subscription data, user data, on the order of millions of times a year with government agencies without a warrant. I mean, this is a black hole we live in here in Canada.
Joe, I wanted to get back to you and ask you a question, because you’ve been covering this topic for a long time now, and one of the things I hear about from people who are more sympathetic to the NSA side, to people who have maybe access on a regular basis to knowledge of the programs and operations and so on, I hear them say quite often that those slides and the reporting that’s done by Washington Post, New York Times, Guardian, so on, takes it out of context. The documents are not put in their proper context. And you got a piece of that with Hayden when he said it’s like you’re coming into the third act and the butler did it, when in fact if you watch the whole movie reel you might understand it better. Do you think that the reporting that’s gone on around the documents that we’ve seen as part of the Snowden releases has been contextualized properly?
Joseph Menn: That’s a really good question. I do think they have a point. The intelligence community and defenders have a point. It echoes, you know, what I said earlier, that we know a lot about capability but not how it’s applied. So we don’t have anything that says how often XKeyscore, the amazing wonderful search engine that will get you everybody's goodies about everything, we don’t know how often that’s used. We don’t know how often it’s used in the U.S., other countries, we don’t know how many people are allowed to use that, and we don’t really know a lot about the oversight. It is nice that some of the leaked documents include some FISA court rulings and you have some back and forth when the NSA occasionally gets in trouble for doing something wrong and they get yelled at by the judges. We don’t have all of those documents. That would be nice. I think one of the recommendations of the presidential review board was that they disclose a lot more of the court opinions.
So, yeah. We don’t know everything. We don’t – like I said, capability is one thing, how it’s used is another.
But I think it is hard for more folks to say that we have a terrific system of oversight. Really, if the FISA court is granting blanket warrants, bulk warrants, without anybody knowing that, and then nobody’s allowed to talk about that – that’s not the traditional due process. Ten out of eleven judges, Republican appointed of themselves – that’s unusual. One side presenting – that’s unusual. It’s not what most people would think of as due process, I think.
Ron Deibert: But what would be the alternative? I’m just curious. What would be the alternative? You’d have an adversary for whom, Al Qaeda? Like an attorney arguing the opposite case? I mean, what's, what is –
Joseph Menn: A civil liberties advocate, I would think. Somebody like that.
Ron Deibert: Yeah. So let’s turn to this topic, Ann, and deal with the tough issue. I think everyone recognizes there are real threats to democracy that we have to guard against. What’s the proper way to deal with something as fundamental as that? We don’t want a bomb blowing up in this building. They all referenced the building when we watched this debate, and we’ve had some horrific episodes in recent memory. We live in a post Cold War world with superempowered individuals who can wreak enormous havoc. What’s the proper balance to strike? Should we give up some of our privacy for security?
Ann Cavoukian: I think – I don’t like to think of it in terms of giving up some of our privacy. If there is a threat that can be demonstrated – and not conclusively, but you need some evidence. We talk about the courts and due process. If the police have some evidence to give them reasonable probable grounds that something is going on that is suspicious, you go to a court, you get a warrant, you pursue it. What if it’s an emergency and you can’t do all that? Fine. In exigent circumstances, you enable law enforcement to go after it, and then after the fact they can go to the court and give notice of what they’ve done. The point is, there has to be some evidence-based procedures.
What we have now is the exact opposite. You have a sort of a counterfactual situation. The evidence isn’t supported by what is happening in terms of the blanket collection of everyone’s communications. And in so doing, not only is it a violation of your privacy and liberty and freedom, but it’s also ineffective. So it’s a lose-lose. It’s a negative sum. It’s not even zero sum.
So you need a situation where there is some court of law taking place, warrants are obtained, and absent that you have provisions for exigent circumstances. We’ve been operating that way forever.
And other people say, “Well, look, since 9/11 we haven’t had another terrorist attack, so the NSA surveillance systems must be working.” That’s nonsense! A lot has happened since 9/11. People are more aware of what’s going on, and if they see some suspicious activity they report it themselves. Law enforcement is more nimble. They are looking out for things. Boots on the ground. So we’re not giving any attention to all of those activities as supporting our freedom and avoidance of another 9/11 situation.
The bottom line is, the way they’re doing it now, the bulk collection, is not only ineffective, it results in a lot false positives, meaning people get labeled as being potential terrorists when they’re not, they’re completely innocent. And their lives, what they have to go through to undo that mess and to clear their names – these are innocent, law-abiding citizens – it's a nightmare.
So you’re not getting any benefit, and you’re causing a lot of harm, and you’re completely eroding our privacy and freedom.
Ron Deibert: So, Joe, if I was going to be a devil’s advocate to what Ann just said, and I think the counterargument would be something along the lines of, one, there’s a difference between collection and surveillance, so we may collect all of this data but when we actually engage in surveillance, when we interrogate the data, that’s a different thing. We go to a judge. That was where Hayden talked about the transom that he goes up to, only 22 people have access and they ask the question and there’s lots of proper oversight.
The other question I would have is, well, "in order to really find out and preempt suspicious behavior that could lead to some attack, we need to be able to collect it all. In order to establish anomalous behavior, we need to know what the general patterns are, and we have powerful algorithms that allow us to mine through this data to search for that sort of behavior and predict when it’s going to happen and hopefully preempt it." Is that what you hear as well? Would you have a counterargument of your own?
Joseph Menn: Well, let’s see. “The collection isn’t really, doesn’t really count because we’re not roaming through it.” I’m a little confused about that one. I don’t think that’s really comforting to most people because there isn’t any transparency about the procedures for going back in and rummaging around.
Though some of that has leaked out. It turns out that they don’t, you know, it’s sort of changing as we speak. For example, it used to be not just the 228 seed numbers, I believe it was actually a lot more and then they got slapped around a little bit by the FISA court and they cut it way back.
In addition, it wasn’t just Yemeni safe house to Buffalo, it was who Buffalo called and who that person talked to. It was three hops. And they've pared that back.
So, I’m not sure the NSA is in the best position to argue just, you know, “Trust us. You know, we’ll get all your goodies and we won’t look through it unless we really want to, unless we’ve got a good reason to.” When they, you know, they were doing that, they were doing more than they were saying, and even the judges thought it was too much.
I was confused that General Hayden said that they don’t do data mining, because I thought that was sort of the whole point, that they look for anomalies, that they look for connections. So I’m not sure really what he meant by that. Maybe he just meant that they haven’t gotten really good at it yet.
Ron Deibert: You know, one of the things, and, Ann, I want to go back to you on this too, again it speaks to being Canadian and watching this debate. There is really a dichotomy between how these issues are discussed within an American context, issues around the Fourth Amendment, around oversight, around metadata collection when it comes to Americans, but I know General Hayden believes that when it comes to foreigners, it’s all bets are off. Right? And I think that’s the same, it’s fair to say, with most signals intelligence agencies of every country around the world. So you have, you know, greater or lesser protections for privacy domestically, and internationally it’s kind of this fair game. But at the same time we live in this global communications network where I’m traveling all over the world, I’ve got colleagues that I work with, we’re all in the same position like that. How do we square that? How will this ever be resolved, do you think?
Ann Cavoukian: I’m glad you raised that. First of all, I think it’s fiction that they say, “Well we only collect information on foreigners.” Who cares? The U.S. will collect information on Canadians, Canadians will collect information on Americans, and vice versa with the Five Eyes, each being each other’s eyes. So everything is being collected. The exact who does what to whom? It almost doesn’t matter, because the data is accessible, and we know, certainly between CSEC and the NSA, they are constantly in communication and sharing information.
So I think the bigger picture is how do we transform this? Do we continue in the method of bulk collection, and if we do – because I also, I’m an optimist but I’m also a realist. So right now that’s what they’re doing. What do we do right now? What can we do to transform this? And at the very least what you can do is, as William Binney suggested many years ago, encrypt the data that you have such that you only poke into it when you do have a warrant, when you do have some warranted activity that justifies it.
Actually my office wrote a paper a short while ago called “Privacy Protective Surveillance By Design.” And it was all about designing the surveillance system, if you must have all this bulk data, which there appears to be now, that at the very least you encrypt it. And the analyses that are done are done on encrypted values, and you only extricate personally identifiable data when you have legitimate evidence, and then you can take it to a court and get a subpoena, a warrant of some sort.
I think we have to have a major transformation of the system, because if it continues this way – and no one wants to talk about, you know, the [...] of totalitarianism, or what’s happening, but can you imagine if the Stasi police had access to these kind of tools? It’s mind-boggling what can take place when you have access to such wide information.
And the notion that metadata, we’re not accessing the content, it’s just data about data, is such utter nonsense. People like, you know, Vint Cerf, the co-inventor of the internet, and many others, have said that the value of metadata is actually far greater. It can reveal far more intrusive, invasive, detailed personal information than access to content alone.
Ron Deibert: Joe, what about that? Foreign versus domestic. How are we ever going to square this?
Joseph Menn: Let’s see. Yeah, that’s not going to play very well. It certainly hasn’t with the major U.S. technology companies that do so much business overseas and have to explain how their customers in China are not going to be treated as well as customers in the U.S. It is the historic position of the U.S. intelligence establishment and most other intelligence establishments that anything outside of the borders is fair game, but when you’re using private industry as your vehicle, I think it gets very complicated, and if it is going to change, and I’m not very convinced that it will, I think the technology companies would have to be the ones that really bring the weight. I mean, they’re the ones that, you know, even the White House has to listen to. I mean, if Microsoft, Facebook, Google and all the others agree on something really huge and actually say that they’re going to fight and put money in something, which I haven’t seen happen yet, still, that might actually help change something. But, you know. They do a lot a business with the U.S. government, so.
Rudyard Griffiths: It looks like – yeah, thanks, Ron. It’s Rudyard Griffiths here coming to you direct from the voting results in Roy Thomson Hall. I’ve got them for you now. We started the debate, Ron, with 33% agreeing, 46% disagreeing, 21% undecided. We've ended up with 41% agree, 59% disagree.
source: Munk Debates
Ron Deibert: Wow.
Rudyard Griffiths: So a gain of only 8 percentage points by Hayden and Dershowitz versus 13 percentage points by Greenwald and Ohanian. So I would characterize it, Ron, as a kind of a squeaker of a win here on the Con side, a 4 percentage point victory over the pro debaters. Those are the results live right now from Roy Thomson Hall.
Ron Deibert: Wow. That’s fascinating. We can all tweet in safety and security now knowing that we’re not being watched.
Ann Cavoukian: Ha! (laughs) I doubt it.
Rudyard Griffiths: I’ll let you continue with the conversation. You’ve got a whole bunch of people watching you and you don’t need to see my ugly, uh, headshot down there on the bottom of the screen, so I’ll leave you guys to it.
Ron Deibert: Thank you. Thank you, Rudyard. You did a great job in the moderation there, fantastic.
So, Joe and Ann, I want to turn now to a subject that I think, speaking for myself, I always find a bit uncomfortable to talk about but I thought we’d address it here. Edward Snowden made a video appearance there, taped especially apparently for this debate, and I get asked this all the time, I’m sure you all do. Snowden: Patriot? Hero? Traitor? What’s your view on that question and the man?
Joseph Menn: Those are my choices? Patriot, hero, traitor?
Ron Deibert: You can take it anywhere you want, but I get asked that all the time and it always makes me a bit cringey.
Joseph Menn: Yeah, it’s – I’m much more comfortable talking about what documents say and what policies are and what technological challenges exist and, you know, business interests, than I am about the makeup of a human being. In addition, I’m a reporter, not a TV shrink, and I don’t feel qualified to do a lot of that. I do think it’s interesting. The fact that reforms are in motion lends some credence to the basic whistleblower conception.
Ron Deibert: Okay.
Joseph Menn: On the other hand, the fact that stuff has come out about specific techniques that are clearly being used and allowed and that are tipping NSA’s hand – it’s not the same as blowing a spying operation on, you know, on Putin’s house or something like that, which I think lots of people in the government were very worried about. But still, if you tell the world, here’s a diagram that shows how we break into, you know, an iPhone 3 that, you know, maybe somebody still has somewhere, using this specific baseband antenna weakness, whatever. Okay, so now, now, whatever, whoever we’re targeting knows how to fix that. So there has been some of that. It hasn’t just been broad-brush stuff. So I’m not going to give you hero/traitor. I think real human beings are complicated and I think Edward Snowden is complicated.
Ron Deibert: That’s a really good answer. And Ann, I want to ask you more or less the same thing, but preface it by saying that, you know, we had Thomas Drake on for the Cyber Dialogue recently, somebody that I think you’ve met before as well, and this is somebody who was a whistleblower but actually hung around in the United States to face consequences. And if you look at that choice, I mean Chelsea Manning imprisoned, what is it, 23 hours a day in solitary confinement with a light bulb over your head, is that a real choice? For those who ask, you know, what about fleeing to Hong Kong and Russia? You know, I feel this question makes me uncomfortable. At the same time I think it’s an important one to address because we do live in a surveillance society and there will be more people wrestling with these choices in the future. What would you have done in this circumstance, do you think?
Ann Cavoukian: There is no question in my mind, and I have no trouble telling you that in my view Mr. Snowden is a hero. I think we owe him a huge debt of gratitude. To suggest that he should have stuck around like Mr. Drake did, Thomas Drake, who we were both at the conference. To me, he’s a broken man. I mean, what he had to go through, what he had to endure was horrendous. And, God willing, Binney didn’t have to go through that, but he still had to go through a lot when they broke into his house. And when you think of all of these stories that are just mind-boggling, and then you think of Edward Snowden has revealed all this information and what is it exactly he’s gotten in return? He’s somewhere in Russia. I mean, would you trade your life for his? I mean, I can’t imagine. He has revealed, for whatever reasons, an enormous amount of information relating to massive state surveillance that we simply would not be aware of absent his disclosures. So the fact that all of this is happening and we didn’t have a clue as to the scale on which it was happening, that speaks volumes.
What does that say about freedom and liberty? We have to hold our governments accountable. You can’t do that without transparency. The government is supposed to be there at the pleasure of the governed. It seems to be the reverse. And what we need to know is the scale of this kind of activity. That’s what Mr. Snowden has revealed to us, which enables us to try to get answers from our respective governments and to try to change the system.
So, with due respect to all the people who say he’s a traitor or whatever, what exactly, how is he benefiting? Who would trade, would you trade your life for his?
Also, the public, you look at the public’s response to this, especially in the United States. Enormous levels of distrust. For the first time ever in the history of polling, 60% of Americans are saying they favor privacy over public safety and security. That’s never happened before. Twenty-six percent of the U.S. public are changing their online behaviors as a result of these activities. I could go on and on.
Ron Deibert: I wish the same was true here in Canada. Unfortunately we had a poll out yesterday from –
Ann Cavoukian: No!
Ron Deibert: – Journalists for Free Expression saying 60% of Canadians don’t really care about the question of whether their government is spying on them. It’s really bizarre.
Ann Cavoukian: I'm trying to ignore that. (laughs)
Ron Deibert: Yeah, well, we’re trying our best to change those views, but I want to, I don’t know exactly how much time we have left, I think we’re reaching the end here, but I want to talk finally about the consequences of the Snowden revelations, of Greenwald and his colleagues reporting around all of this, what impact has it had. You heard Dershowitz, I think it was, certainly Hayden, a common trope is that this is leading to the balkanization of the internet, and I actually think there’s some truth to that, that countries’ reactions are going to be self-serving and a bit cynical. They'll use the excuse of detaching from U.S. controlled networks to put in place their own national censorship regimes.
But I was also struck – I was out in Vancouver for the annual meeting of the IETF, the Internet Engineering Task Force, where Bruce Schneier gave a presentation, the keynote, resolution saying the internet is under attack, and they all agreed with this in the way that they do, and now they’re dead set on finding a way to, you know, create technologies that will make the internet immune to mass surveillance. And I think in the long run that may be the most important consequence.
So, Joe, over to you, what do you think, for you – you know, what are the one or two or three big consequences of all of this?
Joseph Menn: Well, I think those are two of the big ones. I mean, I think efforts by technologists who have historically, many of them, seen the NSA as an ally in protecting U.S. interests, U.S. companies, U.S. citizens, that trust is just completely shattered. And unless something dramatic happens like a spinout of the NSA’s information assurance division, which nobody thinks is likely, then I don’t see that changing for a long time. So that has reinvigorated this effort to, you know, encrypt everything.
And perhaps more important even than the IETF and the various other task forces that sort of hold it all together are, you know, there’s actual like startup money. There are venture capitalists that have been funding, making million funding, like all these great cyberwar attacking companies are now saying, “You know, maybe there might be a little money in the privacy thing.” And there are attempts to do this that are, I think some are plausible. They’re all better than nothing. They won’t make collection impossible, but they will make bulk collection very difficult, much more difficult, for those who participate in it. I think e-mail may be hopeless. I think PGP is – you know, PGP for the masses would be really great, but I don’t see it happening. But text and apps, it could happen that way. So there’s that from the champions of liberty or what have you.
I do think there’s economic harm to U.S. companies. I think the jury’s still out on how bad it is. A lot of the early numbers were kind of made up. But we have a number of big companies at least blaming some fall-off in China at least partially on this. But, again, some of that could be, you know, mercantilism again. You know, if China wants to protect its companies and if it’s going to say it’s because Cisco is spying you that you got to buy Huawei, whatever, that’s what they’ll say. You know, they’re rooting for their companies the way we’re rooting for ours. You know, that’s going to play out.
And I think balkanization is going to be a fairly big deal but it’s going to be messy. Brazil backed off some of its stuff. It turns out to be really hard to balkanize seriously.
Ron Deibert: Yeah. I’m about to head off to Berlin, where I think this topic is very active right now, about building a, you know, a German network detached from the U.S.
So, Ann, over to you. It looks like you’ll have the last word. What do you think the big consequences are of all of this?
Ann Cavoukian: I think one positive consequence on the tail end of what you’re talking about, Bruce Schneier, and he was saying we have to take back the internet and develop more secure crypto – you’re going to have wonderful new technologies, new innovative privacy protective technologies that will instill control of the data with the data subjects, with the individuals, and that’s what excites me. Things like smart data, where the protections necessary to protect the data travel with the data and are embedded in the data. You’re going to have new forms of control.
What people are realizing now, the public is just saying, “Oh my God. Privacy is about control, personal control over the uses and disclosures of your data. How do we do that?”
So companies, innovative companies, are now developing technologies that are going to instill this control, wrap it around the data, so that as it travels through the internet and the cloud and wherever, the necessary permissions for the uses of that data travel with it. And these are new models that are just emerging.
So I think the future – privacy breeds innovation. It drives creativity. So I’m very optimistic this is going to take us in new directions where personal control and liberty are wrapped around the data and people can have freedom.
Ron Deibert: That’s really great. Well, listen, I truly enjoyed this conversation. I wish we could do this again sometime, maybe together over a dinner somewhere. It was a great debate, and I’d like to thank the Aurea Foundation and the Munk Debates for putting this together and all of the debaters who did a fantastic job. Most of all I want to thank both of you. Ann Cavoukian, thank you very much for doing this.
Ann Cavoukian: My pleasure.
Ron Deibert: And Joseph Menn, thanks for connecting from Los Angeles. It’s great to see you again.
Joseph Menn: Good to see you. Thanks.
Ron Deibert: Okay. Thank you. Bye bye.
Ann Cavoukian: Bye bye, Ron.
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