"Private industry would be envious if they knew what our models are," boasted Dean Silverman, the IRS's high-tech top gun at a trade gathering last year. But he gave no details.
"The real issue the NSA and other cases bring up is not really just loss of privacy. It is more about a government with an agency out of control," Schneier says. "We already give law enforcement the ability to invade in personal lives. Because it helps them solve crimes, it's a good thing. But that comes with a lot of legal procedure and process. When you do things without transparency and accountability, it's an abuse of power."
He says it's a mistake to give the government technology tools just because they are being used in private enterprise. Weinstein agrees that government should not follow the private sector down the "slippery slope" in privacy invasion. Schneier argues vehemently that government needs to follow a higher standard because of its pervasive role and power over people's lives.
"If Google makes a mistake, you get a wrong car ad for a new Ford flashed on your computer screen," Schneier says. "If government makes a mistake, you can get a drone dropped on your front lawn."