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An Open Letter from ­.s. Researchers in Cryptography and Information Security

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The seal of the National Security Agency

U.S. cryptography and information security researchers are demanding the U.S. discontinue its domestic and international surveillance practices, as well as halting its deliberate weakening of Internet security standards and its insistence that technology

Credit: Patrick Semansky/AP

Media reports since last June have revealed that the U.S. government conducts domestic and international surveillance on a massive scale, that it engages in deliberate and covert weakening of Internet security standards, and that it pressures US technology companies to deploy backdoors and other data-collection features. As leading members of the US cryptography and information-security research communities, we deplore these practices and urge that they be changed.

Indiscriminate collection, storage, and processing of unprecedented amounts of personal information chill free speech and invite many types of abuse, ranging from mission creep to identity theft. These are not hypothetical problems; they have occurred many times in the past. Inserting backdoors, sabotaging standards, and tapping commercial data-center links provide bad actors, foreign and domestic, opportunities to exploit the resulting vulnerabilities.

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