Bruce Schneier, the world famous cryptographer behind algorithms like Blowfish has been asked to clean out his desk (proverbially speaking, as he evidently teleworked from Minnesota) as a consultant with BT. For their part the British telephony giant has claimed that it had nothing to do with his involvement in analyzing the Snowden documents with the team at The Guardian, but critics are skeptical. I wrote a brief response to this announcement on his blog and have included it below both for the convenience of the readers, to ensure that the link doesn’t break over time and more importantly to safeguard against the post being removed by the blog’s moderator.
“… hypothetically speaking I would think that if Bruce discovered the conduct of his employer conflicted with his own very well defined publically known ethical persona then I imagine he would hand in his resignation in a heartbeat. I know I would. You could counter argue that perhaps BT’s board was angered about having someone like Bruce – who thanks to the Guardian and his analysis of the Snowden material now has “controversial” emblazoned on his back – on their payroll when their own hands aren’t exactly clean (allegedly, anyway, if you believe the British press). I understand that there are almost certainly NDAs in place and that neither Bruce nor BT could likely comment in depth on this issue.Suffice to say, I think it removes a big question mark that has been hanging over Schneier’s head regarding his potential conflict of interest. I can only speculate that Schneier has a diverse schedule and a comparably diverse income stream from things like book sales, signings, endorsements and speaking appearances so I suspect (and hope, as he is one of the “good guys”) that this will not cause him any financial distress.
If (and I expect this to neither be confirmed or vociferously denied) Schneier’s departure has even a shred of connection between his work on the Snowden material then I congratulate Bruce on standing up for what’s right and hope that he continues to be a bastion for free speech, limited government and internet security. On behalf of everyone who has read your work over the years – thank you.”
Schneier is a living treasure to the Internet security community. He has devoted a considerable portion of his life to researching and improving information security. Regardless of your opinions of his more controversial beliefs or his use of the proprietary and notoriously bug filled and security porous Windows, Bruce has conducted himself with professionalism and has been an asset to our industry. If the situation has occurred as some have alleged (emphasis on alleged) it would appear to be a tremendous mistake to let such a talented and valuable human resource slip through your organization as a result of nothing more than the bruised ego of a few white collars in the boardroom.