Crypto controls are spreading internationally

Monday, 15 July 2002, 2:00 PM EST

Five years ago, when the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) released their guidelines for cryptography policy, crypto advocates cheered and declared victory. After a hard fought battle, we had forced the OECD to back away from the U.S. government's efforts to restrict encryption worldwide. After the guidelines, countries around the world issued crypto policies that called for the free and unfettered use of encryption products to promote e-commerce and protect privacy. Eventually, even the U.S. gave up anddropped most export controls. In the last EPIC Cryptography and Privacy survey, written in 2000, there were only a handful of nations that still restricted crypto, like Burma, Belarus, and Russia -- countries you really didn't want to go to anyway.

We expected a golden era of privacy and security, with encryption allowing us to protect our computers and communications from attacks, make purchases with digital cash, and anonymously browse the net. Once crypto was out in the world it would become ubiquitous and could never be restricted again. We even got complacent. We moved onto new battles.

It's time to wake up again. Worldwide, there is now a movement back towards restrictions in the name of fighting cybercrime and terrorism. And we are losing again.

[ Read more ]


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