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When Cryptography Is Outlawed...

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On April 8, 2014, Interhack founder C. Matthew Curtin will discuss the ethical implications of public policy and practice of cryptography at The Ohio State University (Computing Ethics, Philosophy 1337). Based upon his own experience during the Crypto Wars of the 1990s, Curtin will explore the relationship between the individual and the state as affected by the power to keep secrets. Much of the story is available in Curtin's memoir, Brute Force: Cracking the Data Encryption Standard (Copernicus, 2005).



Cryptography is a powerful tool to protect access to information. How does cryptography affect the balance of power between the individual and the state? When the state represents that it is protecting the interest of the people while simultaneously resisting the people's efforts to protect themselves, how can technologists demonstrate the problem they mean to highlight?

We will discuss the "Crypto Wars" of the mid to late 1990s over cryptographic policy of the Clinton administration, the rise of technologically savvy civil libertarians, and the demonstration that the Administration and intelligence officials misrepresented fundamental facts to the Congress considering legislation. We will also look back at the efforts and the results as they relate to the federal government's efforts to control information today.


About Interhack

Interhack is a computer expert firm, engaged by attorneys and executives to address problems and opportunities in security, privacy, and applications of computer technology and data. With clients throughout North America, the firm's experts perform security assessments, forensic analysis, and electronic discovery services in litigation, data breaches, and in support of corporate and government compliance efforts. More information about Interhack is available online at