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Cryptography applications and legal issues

Cryptography is the use of ciphers to codify a secret or something of high secrecy. It has had a long history as there always have existed some government secrets, secret letters, secret formulae, or secret groups/ think tanks that needed to codify their information and findings.

Until recently, it was classical and conventional, where pen and paper were used for cryptography. With the advent of the 20th century and the development of more complex mechanical and electromagnetic aids, the process became complex. The cornerstone of Cryptography has ever since been the Enigma rotor machine. WWII was shortened and stopped by the development of this machine to decipher the enemy’s communication. (2006)

Several cryptography applications can be seen in our daily lives and the spheres of the academic world. For example; time stamping (displays that a certain document was used or delivered at a certain time), electronic money (includes the transactions that have been carried out electronically depicting the net transfer of money from one party to another), Secure Network Communications, Anonymous Remailer, disk encryption, etc., have the application of cryptographic principals. (Simpson, 1997) Today it is widely used to provide secrecy to data and information. It is used by intelligence organizations, government offices, defense sectors, or our forces to communicate or hold information. It is commonly used in business organizations to secure data from foreign elements. It provides data integrity and follows the key management principle, which is handy for businesses. ( Robinson, 2013)

Several legal issues encompass threats to nations, the breeding of spy or terrorist organizations, etc. As computers have provided an inexpensive and widespread reach to complex cryptography, many organizations can use it as a tool to work against government organizations or private businesses. For example, a terrorist organization can communicate through encrypted messages.

The USA has faced challenges regarding export control of cryptography. In 1996, a treaty of arms controls, the Wassenaar Arrangement, was signed by thirty-nine countries to limit the export of ‘dual use’ technologies such as cryptography (Ranger, 2015).

In the UK, the Investigatory Powers Act gives the authorities the power to force suspects to provide them with any encryption or passwords they would like for investigation. It is criticized for contradicting the Right to Privacy (2007).

Works Cited

Robinson, R. (2013). 38 A million Reasons to use Cryptography for Business. Security Intelligence.

(2006). A Brief History of Cryptography. Cypher Research Laboratories.

Ranger, S. (2015). The undercover war on your internet secrets: How online surveillance cracked our trust in the web. TechRepublic.

Simpson, S. (1997). Cryptography in Everyday Life.

(2007). UK Data Encryption Disclosure Law Takes Effect. PC World.



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