IAB and IESG Statement on Cryptographic Technology and the Internet (RFC1984)
Original Publication Date: 1996-Aug-01
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2000-Sep-13
Internet Society Requests For Comment (RFCs)
Status of This Memo
Network Working Group IAB
Request for Comments: 1984 IESG
Category: Informational August 1996
IAB and IESG Statement on Cryptographic Technology and the Internet
Status of This Memo
This memo provides information for the Internet community. This memo
does not specify an Internet standard of any kind. Distribution of
this memo is unlimited.
(C) Internet Society 1996. Reproduction or translation of the
complete document, but not of extracts, including this notice, is
July 24, 1996
The Internet Architecture Board (IAB) and the Internet Engineering
Steering Group (IESG), the bodies which oversee architecture and
standards for the Internet, are concerned by the need for increased
protection of international commercial transactions on the Internet,
and by the need to offer all Internet users an adequate degree of
Security mechanisms being developed in the Internet Engineering Task
Force to meet these needs require and depend on the international use
of adequate cryptographic technology. Ready access to such
technology is therefore a key factor in the future growth of the
Internet as a motor for international commerce and communication.
The IAB and IESG are therefore disturbed to note that various
governments have actual or proposed policies on access to
cryptographic technology that either:
(a) impose restrictions by implementing export controls; and/or
(b) restrict commercial and private users to weak and inadequate
mechanisms such as short cryptographic keys; and/or
(c) mandate that private decryption keys should be in the hands of
the government or of some other third party; and/or
(d) prohibit the use of cryptology entirely, or permit it only to
specially authorized organizations.
We believe that such policies are against the interests of consumers
and the business community, are largely irrelevant to issues of
military security, and provide only a marginal or illusory benefit to
law enforcement agencies, as discussed below.
The IAB and IESG would like to encourage policies that allow ready
access to uniform strong cryptographic technology for all Internet
users in all countries.
The IAB and IESG claim:
The Internet is becoming the predominant vehicle for electronic
commerce and information exchange. It is essential that the support
structure for these activities can be trusted.
Encryption is not a secret technology monopolized by any one country,
such that export controls can hope to contain its deployment. Any
hobbyist can program a PC to do powerful encryption. Many algorithms
are well documented, some with source code available in textbooks.
Export controls on encryption place companies in that country at a
competitive disadvantage. Their competitors from countries without