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Home > Privacy and Government > Government Threats to Privacy > Anti-Privacy Law and Regulation > Encryption Policy

Encryption Policy

Encryption is a way to encode computer files so that only someone with access to a secret "key" can read them. Encryption can protect computer systems and intellectual property from industrial spies and malicious hackers. Just as importantly, encryption can help individuals control what they reveal when they use digital technology. Encryption is essential for protecting individual privacy in the digital age.

Instead of viewing it as an empowering technology, the U.S. government has viewed encryption as a threat to the capabilities of law enforcement. While it is true that encryption can be used by criminals, its widespread use would create more benefits than harms, especially in the area of personal privacy.

In the final analysis, encryption technology probably can not be controlled. Policies against encryption technology keep encryption away from law-abiding people, and threaten their privacy, while criminals will go ahead and use such technology in spite of laws against it.


Strong Cryptography Makes the World a Safer Place Web site, by William Knowles

A Month of Red Tape Is a Long Time by Sonia Arrison, Pacific Research Institute (February 1, 2000)

Strong Cryptography: The Global Tide of Change by Arnold G. Reinhold, Cato Institute (September 17, 1998)

Encryption Policy for the 21st Century: A Future without Government-Prescribed Key Recovery by Solveig Singleton, Cato Institute (November 19, 1998)

U.S. Encryption Policy: A Free-Market Primer by Justin Matlick, Pacific Research Institute (March, 1998)

Encryption Bound? by Solveig Bernstein, Cato Institute (August 6, 1997)

The U.S. Government's Encryption Policy Dodge by Solveig Bernstein, Cato Institute (September 11, 1996)

Comments? (Subject: Encryption)

[updated 04/17/02]

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