Cold War encryption laws stand, but not as firmly

Thursday, 16 October 2003, 3:55 PM EST

U.S. District Judge Marilyn Hall Patel in San Francisco threw out the case after the Bush administration said it would no longer try to enforce portions of the regulations, according to parties involved in the proceedings.

Daniel Bernstein, an iconoclastic math professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, filed suit in 1995 after spending three years wrangling with the federal government over whether a simple encryption program could be freely distributed on the Internet. U.S. law at the time deemed online publication an "export" that could be punished with severe prison terms.

"I hope the government sticks to its promises and leaves me alone--but if they change their mind and start harassing Internet-security researchers, I'll be back," Bernstein said in an e-mail statement. Bernstein, author of the widely used qmail mail utility, did not respond to an interview request.

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