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Crypto restrictions (was Re: PGP kerserver infrastructure)
From: Bennett Todd <bet () rahul net>
Date: Thu, 29 Jun 2000 17:49:28 -0400

As Valdis Kletnieks says, discussion of crypto has never been too
much of a problem; much to the agony of some sick, sick bastards
in various three-letter organizations of the federal gov't, it
remains pretty much legal to discuss pretty much anything, and the
courts continue to frown on suppression of protected speech, prior
restraint, and so on. Though as any number of people can assure you,
the fact that a federal regulation is unconstitutional isn't much
comfort while it's being used to persecute you.

For the longest kind of time, the same sickoes managed to weasel
regulations into place that outlawed distribution of software, on
the grounds that it was a munition, like a bomb or a tank or a
fighter jet or something. At nearly the same time (but I'm sure
there's no connection, it's a complete coincidence) djb won a
federal court ruling that source code was protected speech, and the
export restrictions were _dramatically_ relaxed. In particular,
while there remain some licensing restrictions for exporting
commercial binary crypto code, open source stuff can be pretty
freely shipped about, you just need to notify some email addr or
another of the web site where you're offering the code. In principle
you aren't supposed to make it available to a half-dozen naughty
countries that our gov't continues to want to embargo or something,
but you as the provider of the code on the net are _not_ charged
with enforcing that.

At this point the only remaining barrier to wide open use of strong
crypto in nearly all settings is the RSA patent. 3 months from now,
to the day, that expires, and then the last barrier falls.


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