Encryption: Privacy versus National Security

Powerful Essays
Abstract: The use of encryption by individuals is growing at a tremendous rate, and since 1991 cryptography issues have engulfed both the U.S. government as well as the computing industry. One of the most controversial of these issues is whether encryption should be made supremely secure to the highest-level current technology will allow, or whether a "master key" should be locked away somewhere, only to be used when absolutely justified. Both sides of the issue have their benefits and detriments; the problem is finding the middle ground that will provide the greatest benefit to society.

In the past decade, rapid advances have been made in the field of cryptography. These advances have brought considerable attention to encryption policies in the United States from three large groups: the government, the computing industry and researchers in the field. With old faithful encryption standards quickly becoming obsolete, new standards are currently being proposed by each group. However, the government has its own interest in mind in its standards, and the computing industry and researchers have an opposite idea as to how encryption should be implemented. Thus, the issue is trying to find a new standard that will be accepted by both groups, and ultimately will be a benefit to all individuals. Specifically stated by Kevin Bowyer, "Individuals should have just as great an assurance of privacy. Law enforcement should have at least the same effective ability to conduct surveillance. The U.S. computing industry should compete at least as effectively in global markets. And, national governments should have no less ability to regulate what happens inside their nation." [1]

Before the 1990s, th...

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...ay 8, 1998

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