The New York Times Quotes Stewart Baker on Trust in the Digital Age

August 15, 2012

The New York Times quoted Steptoe partner Stewart Baker, a former assistant secretary at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), in an article titled “Trust: Ill-Advised in a Digital Age.”  The article, published on August 11, discusses a new book “Liars and Outliers: Enabling the Trust That Society Needs to Thrive” authored by Bruce Schneier.  In the book, Mr. Schneier discuses trust: how it is cultivated, destroyed and tweaked in the digital age.

Mr. Schneier is in charge of technology security at BT, the British telecommunications company.  Trust, he writes, is the glue that binds our societies.  The liars he worries about are not cyberwarriors or even cybercriminals but private companies and government agencies advancing their own interests, whether for surveillance or commerce.  He advocates for the right to be anonymous online in certain circumstances.

Mr. Baker, who has also written about cryptography and debated Mr. Schneier on occasion, sees an inherent conflict among some of Mr. Schneier’s ideals.  Mr. Baker argues that you can’t insist on anonymity and simultaneously expect to enforce a system of trust.

“His individual response to rules is to celebrate rule-breakers and to see value in transgression and to discount the value of authority,” Mr. Baker says of Mr. Schneier.  “His personal sensibility is to run with outlaws, but when he looks at society he realizes we can’t all run with the outlaws.”

The full article can be read at The New York Times.