Crypto - the Bosnia of domestic politics...

Jim Whitehead (
Sun, 12 Jan 1997 10:34:06 -0800

Carl Ellison; has written an interesting opinion piece on the
whole cryptography debate at:

While there isn't much fresh analysis in his piece, he does provide a very
concise summary of the crux of the issue, and his isolation of the
difference in viewpoint over the right of citizens to privacy being the
heart of the matter is a key insight.

Here's a teaser...

- Jim

A member of the Clinton Administration once called the Clipper debate the
Bosnia of domestic politics. It is clear that there is no compromise
possible, no matter how hopeful various press releases sound.

As with all unending debates, this one is due to an incompatibility of
viewpoint. The real issue which needs to be addressed is whether citizens
of a country have a right to attempt to achieve privacy from their
government or if they should be forced to submit to covert surveillance.
This is the question George Orwell raised in his "1984". It has yet to be
addressed, much less answered. The debate over cryptography which rages on,
at least in the US, has found both sides acting as if the answer were a
foregone conclusion - only the government has been acting as if the
government's right to succeed at surveillance on demand were inviolate
while private citizens have
been acting as if the citizen's right to attempt to achieve privacy were
inviolate. Until this question is faced and answered, in full public
debate, further progress in the cryptography debate can not occur. At
present, there is no sign of any willingness even to address the topic,
much less resolve it.