24 September 2007


There are a lot of people afraid of the widespread use of cryptography.
Why? What are their concerns? What is the logic of their arguments behind attempting to restrict, or outright ban the use of cryptography?
The primary reason that is given time and time again is that, with the use of strong cryptography, law enforcement will lose the edge of wire taps, using information found on computers and gaining information about crimes from emails in their efforts to prevent and prosecute crimes.
These are legitimate concerns. They sound like compelling arguments. They sound logical. They only fall completely apart when looked at from the reality of two points.
First, all these points assume that the United States is the only, or at least the best place to acquire cryptography. If that were true, then we could curtail the use by terrorists and criminals of crypto simply by outlawing it, and enforcing those laws.
Oh sure; a few bad guys would find a way to get a hold of it, but for the most part, national and local law enforcement agencies would have their investigations and prosecutions unhindered by the inability to collect or use information because it was hidden behind unbreakable cryptography.
The problem is that really good cryptography is available worldwide. Since the Americans are not the only ones that want it, they're not the only ones creating it. Even if were completely illegal inside the US, it is still readily available all over the rest of the world.
Which brings us to the second reason the anti-crypto laws make absolutely no sense. I have yet to hear of a law that Al Queida, or the drug cartels or child pornographers gave a damn about. The same thinking is trying to take all guns away from Americans. Machine guns have been illegal for decades, yet they are still the weapon of choice for dope dealers and terrorists.
All these laws do is disarm law abiding citizens, and make them easier targets for the criminals. Then, in an effort to protect themselves from the REAL criminals, the average citizen has to BECOME a criminal, and go get a gun, and/or cryptography.
Without strong crypto, identity theft will become even more rampant. Fraud and other information crimes will flourish because people can't protect their information from the real criminals. So they download some from Germany or France or Brazil, and become themselves a criminal just for having it.
That is my opinion. What are your thoughts?

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