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Study Finds That Anti-Crypto Laws Won't Work on an International Stage

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A Rubik's Cubed Earth.

A new report demonstrates that encryption technology is very international in nature and that it is impossible for local regulations to have any effect on it.

Credit: Alan Kotok

Local regulations to restrict encryption technology would have no effect considering the technology's international nature, according to a study led by Bruce Schneier, a fellow at Harvard University's Berkman Center for Internet and Society.

Schneier says if the U.S. restricts the export of encryption technology or mandates back doors, customers and criminals alike could look overseas for other vendors. "The cat is out of the bag," he says. "It is an international world. All the research is international and has been for decades. All the conferences are international and have been for decades."

The study examined 546 encryption products in 54 countries outside of the U.S., out of a total of 865 software and hardware products.

Schneier notes although U.S. security vendors may have a greater market share, there is no indication their encryption technology is better than what is available elsewhere. "The standard encryption algorithm, AES, was developed by a team from Belgium," he notes. "Another standard, a hash function standard, was developed by an international team as well. It's not that Americans are worse--it's just a big world."

Forty-four percent of the foreign encryption products studied were free, 56% were sold commercially, and 34% were open source.

From CSO Online
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