Essay on Encryption: Privacy versus National Security

Essay on Encryption: Privacy versus National Security

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    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...

... middle of paper ...

...ay 8, 1998

4. Schwartz, John. One High-End PC Cracks Data-Scrambling System, The Washing Post, July18, 1998

5. Nechvatal et al. Report on the Development of the Advanced Encryption Standard  James National Institute of Standards and Technology, October 2, 2000

6. Baker, Stewart. Don't Worry Be Happy, Wired Magazine, Jun 1994

7. Encryption: Impact on Law Enforcement, Federal Bureau of Investigation, June 3, 1999, pps. 7-8

8. Rivest, Ronald L. The Case against Regulating Encryption Technology, Scientific American, October 1998. pps. 116--117.

9. Kolata, Gina. The Key Vanishes: Scientist Outlines Unbreakable Code, New York Times, February 20, 2001

10. U.S. Supreme Court, Olmstead v. U.S., 277 U.S. 438, 1928.

11. Schneier, Bruce. Cryptography: The Importance of Not Being Different, IEEE  Computer, Vol. 32, No. 3, March 1999. pps. 108-109

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