Encryption Lawsuit Filed — In late February, U.C. Berkeley graduate student Daniel Bernstein, with the support of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, filed suit against the U.S. State Department over the publication of an encryption program called "Snuffle." As has been illustrated with the recent legal history of the PGP algorithm and the Clipper chip, the State Department currently classifies encryption software as a munition subject to tight export restrictions; however, Bernstein feels the government is violating his First Amendment rights by preventing him from publishing his work.
Computer privacy experts are taking the position that this suit could help define major issues surrounding encryption and privacy issues in the computer industry. The Federal government holds that allowing unregulated access to cryptography benefits terrorists, drug traffickers, and other criminals, effectively granting immunity to whole segments of criminal activity. Privacy advocates counter that the right to privacy outweighs law enforcement needs and that limits to the range of law enforcement have always been fundamental to U.S. law. "It would be much easier to crack down on drug dealers or terrorists if we allowed torture, or if we prohibited a jury trial," said John Gilmore, a board member of the EFF. You can check out the EFF’s information in EFFector Online, or at the EFF Web site. [GD]