DIMACS Discrete Mathematics Seminar


Codes, Keys and Conflicts: Issues in U.S. Crypto Policy


Susan Landau
University of Massachussetts


Seminar Room 431, CoRE Building,
Busch Campus, Rutgers University.


1:00 PM
Thursday, February 16, 1995


On April 16, 1993, the White House announced the Escrowed Encryption Initiative (EES)-- the Clipper chip, and a key escrow scheme, with the encryption keys escrowed with the government. The public response was substantial and negative. Despite that, the National Institute of Standards and Technology approved EES as a voluntary Federal standard for encryption of voice, fax, and computer information transmitted over circuit-switched telephone systems.

What would be the cost to society if criminals concealed their communications using codes the government cannot decipher? How will U.S. economic competitiveness be affected by export controls on cryptographic systems? How important is protecting society from abuses by criminals and terrorists versus protecting personal privacy from all threats -- including potential eavesdropping by the government?

In this talk we consider the dual-edged sword cryptography presents to both law enforcement and national security, we present a brief history of wiretap law in the United States, and we put the current policy on cryptography in the context of decisions over the last twenty years. We briefly discuss the anticipated impact of EES on the computer and cryptography industries, on privacy, and on law enforcement and national security. For further details, the audience is urged to read the ACM report: Codes, Keys, and Conflicts: Issues in U.S. Crypto Policy, available via http://info.acm.org/reports/acm_crypto_study.html.

Document last modified on February 10, 1995