Summary Box: Int’l encryption woes echo US debate

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THE LATEST CONCERNS: Foreign governments including India and the United Arab Emirates are uneasy about the encryption technology behind BlackBerry’s corporate e-mail service.

ECHOS OF THE PAST: The U.S. also had been worried about encryption, fearing that exports of encryption products at the level in common use today would make it harder to spy on foreign governments. Since then, the U.S. government has more or less accepted that encryption is here to stay.

RESOLUTION: The Clinton administration relaxed export controls in 1999, over the objections of its attorney general and FBI director. The foreign governments are essentially a decade behind in coming to terms with encryption, even though it’s fundamental to the Internet as a medium of commerce.

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