Government Intervention Of The Internet

.. oding data so that only someone with the proper “key” can decode it.

“Why do you need PGP (encryption)? It’s personal. It’s private. And it’s no one’s business but yours.You may be planning a political campaign, discussing our taxes, or having an illicit affair. Or you may be doing something that you feel shouldn’t be illegal, but is. Whatever it is, you don’t want your private electronic mail (E-mail) or confidential documents read by anyone else. There’s nothing wrong with asserting your privacy. Privacy is as apple-pie as the Constitution.

We Will Write a Custom Essay Specifically
For You For Only $13.90/page!


order now

Perhaps you think your E-mail is legitimate enough that encryption is unwarranted. If you really are a law-abiding citizen with nothing to hide, then why don’t you always send your paper mail on postcards? Why not submit to drug testing on demand? Why require a warrant for police searches of your house? Are you trying to hide something? You must be a subversive or a drug dealer if you hide your mail inside envelopes. Or maybe a paranoid nut.

Do law-abiding citizens have any need to encrypt their E-mail? What if everyone believed that law-abiding citizens should use postcards for their mail? If some brave soul tried to assert his privacy by using an envelope for his mail, it would draw suspicion. Perhaps the authorities would open his mail to see what he’s hiding. Fortunately, we don’t live in that kind of world, because everyone protects most of their mail with envelopes.

So no one draws suspicion by asserting their privacy with an envelope. There’s safety in numbers.Analogously, it would be nice if everyone routinely used encryption for all their E-mail, innocent or not, so that no one drew suspicion by asserting their E-mail privacy with encryption. Think of it as a form of solidarity (Zimmerman).” Until the development of the Internet, the U.

S. government controlled most new encryption techniques. With the development of faster home computers and a worldwide web, they no longer hold control over encryption. New algorithms have been discovered that are reportedly uncrackable even by the FBI and the NSA.This is a major concern to the government because they want to maintain the ability to conduct wiretaps, and other forms of electronic surveillance into the digital age.

To stop the spread of data encryption software, the U.S. government has imposed very strict laws on its exportation. One very well known example of this is the PGP (Pretty Good Privacy) scandal.

PGP was written by Phil Zimmerman, and is based on “public key” encryption. This system uses complex algorithms to produce two codes, one for encoding and one for decoding.To send an encoded message to someone, a copy of that person’s “public” key is needed. The sender uses this public key to encrypt the data, and the recipient uses their “private” key to decode the message. As Zimmerman was finishing his program, he heard about a proposed Senate bill to ban cryptography.

This prompted him to release his program for free, hoping that it would become so popular that its use could not be stopped. One of the original users of PGP posted it to an Internet site, where anyone from any country could download it, causing a federal investigator to begin investigating Phil for violation of this new law.As with any new technology, this program has allegedly been used for illegal purposes, and the FBI and NSA are believed to be unable to crack this code. When told about the illegal uses of him programs, Zimmerman replies: “If I had invented an automobile, and was told that criminals used it to rob banks, I would feel bad, too. But most people agree the benefits to society that come from automobiles — taking the kids to school, grocery shopping and such — outweigh their drawbacks.” (Levy 56). Currently, PGP can be downloaded from MIT. They have a very complicated system that changes the location on the software to be sure that they are protected.

All that needs to be done is click “YES” to four questions dealing with exportation and use of the program, and it is there for the taking. This seems to be a lot of trouble to protect a program from spreading that is already world wide. The government wants to protect their ability to legally wiretap, but what good does it do them to stop encryption in foreign countries? They cannot legally wiretap someone in another country, and they sure cannot ban encryption in the U.

S. The government has not been totally blind to the need for encryption. For nearly two decades, a government sponsored algorithm, Data Encryption Standard (DES), has been used primarily by banks.The government always maintained the ability to decipher this code with their powerful supercomputers. Now that new forms of encryption have been devised that the government can’t decipher, they are proposing a new standard to replace DES. This new standard is called Clipper, and is based on the “public key” algorithms. Instead of software, Clipper is a microchip that can be incorporated into just about anything (Television, Telephones, etc.).

This algorithm uses a much longer key that is 16 million times more powerful than DES.It is estimated that today’s fastest computers would take 400 billion years to break this code using every possible key. (Lehrer 378). “The catch: At the time of manufacture, each Clipper chip will be loaded with its own unique key, and the Government gets to keep a copy, placed in escrow. Not to worry, though the Government promises that they will use these keys to read your traffic only when duly authorized by law.

Of course, to make Clipper completely effective, the next logical step would be to outlaw other forms of cryptography (Zimmerman).” “If privacy is outlawed, only outlaws will have privacy.Intelligence agencies have access to good cryptographic technology. So do the big arms and drug traffickers. So do defense contractors, oil companies, and other corporate giants. But ordinary people and grassroots political organizations mostly have not had access to affordable “military grade” public-key cryptographic technology. Until now.

PGP empowers people to take their privacy into their own hands.There’s a growing social need for it. That’s why I wrote it (Zimmerman).” The most important benefits of encryption have been conveniently overlooked by the government. If everyone used encryption, there would be absolutely no way that an innocent bystander could happen upon something they choose not to see.

Only the intended receiver of the data could decrypt it (using public key cryptography, not even the sender can decrypt it) and view its contents. Each coded message also has an encrypted signature verifying the sender’s identity.The sender’s secret key can be used to encrypt an enclosed signature message, thereby “signing” it. This creates a digital signature of a message, which the recipient (or anyone else) can check by using the sender’s public key to decrypt it. This proves that the sender was the true originator of the message, and that the message has not been subsequently altered by anyone else, because the sender alone possesses the secret key that made that signature. “Forgery of a signed message is infeasible, and the sender cannot later disavow his signature(Zimmerman).” Gone would be the hate mail that causes many problems, and gone would be the ability to forge a document with someone else’s address.

The government, if it did not have alterior motives, should mandate encryption, not outlaw it.As the Internet continues to grow throughout the world, more governments may try to impose their views onto the rest of the world through regulations and censorship. It will be a sad day when the world must adjust its views to conform to that of the most prudish regulatory government. If too many regulations are inacted, then the Internet as a tool will become nearly useless, and the Internet as a mass communication device and a place for freedom of mind and thoughts, will become non existent.

The users, servers, and parents of the world must regulate themselves, so as not to force government regulations that may stifle the best communication instrument in history. If encryption catches on and becomes as widespread as Zimmerman predicts it will, then there will no longer be a need for the government to meddle in the Internet, and the biggest problem will work itself out.The government should rethink its approach to the censorship and encryption issues, allowing the Internet to continue to grow and mature. Works Cited Emler-Dewitt, Philip. “Censoring Cyberspace: Carnegie Mellon’s Attempt to Ban Sex from it’s Campus Computer Network Sends A Chill Along the Info Highway.

” Time 21 Nov. 1994; 102-105. Lehrer, Dan.”The Secret Sharers: Clipper Chips and Cypherpunks.

” The Nation 10 Oct. 1994; 376-379. “Let the Internet Backlash Begin.” Advertising Age 7 Nov. 1994; 24.

Levy, Steven. “The Encryption Wars: is Privacy Good or Bad?” Newsweek 24 Apr. 1995; 55-57.Miller, Michael. “Cybersex Shock.

” PC Magazine 10 Oct. 1995; 75-76. Wilson, David. “The Internet goes Crackers.” Education Digest May 1995; 33-36.Zimmerman, Phil. (1995).

Pretty Good Privacy v2.62, [Online]. Available Ftp: net-dist.mit.edu Directory: pub/pgp/dist File: Pgp262dc.zip.

Government Intervention of the Internet

During the past decade, our society has become based solely on theability to movelarge amounts of information across large distances quickly. Computerization hasinfluenced everyone’s life. The natural evolution of computers and thisneed forultra-fast communications has caused a global network of interconnectedcomputers to develop. This global net allows a person to send E-mail across theworld in mere fractions of a second, and enables even the common person to accessinformation world-wide. With advances such as software that allows users with asound card to use the Internet as a carrier for long distance voice calls and videoconferencing, this network is key to the future of the knowledge society. At present, thisnet is the epitome of the first amendment: free speech. It is a place where peoplecan speak their mind without being reprimanded for what they say, or how theychoose to say it. The key to the world-wide success of the Internet is its protection offree speech, not only in America, but in other countries where free speech is notprotected by a constitution.

To be found on the Internet is a huge collection ofobscene graphics, Anarchists’ cookbooks and countless other things that offend somepeople. With over 30 million Internet users in the U.S. alone (only 3 million of whichsurf the net from home), everything is bound to offend someone. The newest wave of lawsfloating through law making bodies around the world threatens to stifle this areaof spontaneity. Recently, Congress has been considering passing laws thatwill make it a crime punishable by jail to send “vulgar” language over the net, andto export encryption software.

We Will Write a Custom Essay Specifically
For You For Only $13.90/page!


order now

No matter how small, any attempt at governmentintervention in the Internet will stifle the greatest communication innovation ofthis century. The government wants to maintain control over this new form ofcommunication, and they are trying to use the protection of children as a smoke screen topass laws that will allow them to regulate and censor the Internet, while banningtechniques that could eliminate the need for regulation. Censorship of the Internetthreatens to destroy its freelance atmosphere, while wide spread encryption couldhelp prevent the need for government intervention. The current body of laws existing today in America does not apply wellto theInternet. Is the Internet like a bookstore, where servers cannot beexpected toreview every title? Is it like a phone company who must ignore what itcarriesbecause of privacy? Is it like a broadcasting medium, where thegovernmentmonitors what is broadcast? The trouble is that the Internet can be allor none ofthese things depending on how it’s used. The Internet cannot be viewedas onetype of transfer medium under current broadcast definitions. The Internet differs from broadcasting media in that one cannot justhappen upon avulgar site without first entering a complicated address, or following alink fromanother source. “The Internet is much more like going into a book storeandchoosing to look at adult magazines.

” (Miller 75). Jim Exon, a democratic senator from Nebraska, wants to pass a decencybillregulating the Internet. If the bill passes, certain commercial serversthat postpictures of unclad beings, like those run by Penthouse or Playboy, wouldof coursebe shut down immediately or risk prosecution. The same goes for anyamateurweb site that features nudity, sex talk, or rough language. Posting anydirty wordsin a Usenet discussion group, which occurs routinely, could make oneliable for a$50,000 fine and six months in jail.

Even worse, if a magazine thatcommonly runssome of those nasty words in its pages, The New Yorker for instance,decided topost its contents on-line, its leaders would be held responsible for a$100,000 fineand two years in jail. Why does it suddenly become illegal to postsomething thathas been legal for years in print? Exon’s bill apparently would also”criminalizeprivate mail,” ..

. “I can call my brother on the phone and sayanything–but if I sayit on the Internet, it’s illegal” (Levy 53). Congress, in their pursuit of regulations, seems to have overlooked thefact that themajority of the adult material on the Internet comes from overseas. Although manyU.

S. government sources helped fund Arpanet, the predecessor to theInternet,they no longer control it. Many of the new Internet technologies,including theWorld Wide Web, have come from overseas. There is no clear boundarybetweeninformation held in the U.

S. and information stored in other countries.Data held inforeign computers is just as accessible as data in America, all it takesis the click ofa mouse to access. Even if our government tried to regulate theInternet, we haveno control over what is posted in other countries, and we have nopractical way tostop it. The Internet’s predecessor was originally designed to upholdcommunications aftera nuclear attack by rerouting data to compensate for destroyed telephonelines andservers.

Today’s Internet still works on a similar design. The verynature thisdesign allows the Internet to overcome any kind of barriers put in itsway. If amajor line between two servers, say in two countries, is cut, then theInternet userswill find another way around this obstacle. This obstacle avoidancemakes itvirtually impossible to separate an entire nation from indecentinformation in othercountries.

If it was physically possible to isolate America’s computersfrom the restof the world, it would be devastating to our economy. Recently, a major university attempted to regulate what types ofInternet access itsstudents had, with results reminiscent of a 1960’s protest. A researchassociate atCarnegie Mellon University conducted a study of pornography on theschool’scomputer networks. Martin Rimm put together quite a large picturecollection(917,410 images) and he also tracked how often each image had beendownloaded(a total of 6.4 million).

Pictures of similar content had recently beendeclaredobscene by a local court, and the school feared they might be heldresponsible forthe content of its network. The school administration quickly removedaccess to allthese pictures, and to the newsgroups where most of this obscenity issuspected tocome from. A total of 80 newsgroups were removed, causing a largedisturbanceamong the student body, the American Civil Liberties Union, and theElectronicFrontier Foundation, all of whom felt this was unconstitutional. Afteronly half aweek, the college had backed down, and restored the newsgroups. This isa tinyexample of what may happen if the government tries to impose censorship(Elmer-Dewitt 102). Currently, there is software being released that promises to blockchildren’s accessto known X-rated Internet newsgroups and sites. However, since mostadults relyon their computer literate children to setup these programs, thechildren will be ableto find ways around them.

This mimics real life, where these childrenwould surelybe able to get their hands on an adult magazine. Regardless of whattypes ofsoftware or safeguards are used to protect the children of theInformation age,there will be ways around them. This necessitates the education of thechildren todeal with reality. Altered views of an electronic world translate easilyinto alteredviews of the real world. “When it comes to our children, censorship is afar lessimportant issue than good parenting. We must teach our kids that theInternet is aextension and a reflection of the real world, and we have to show themhow toenjoy the good things and avoid the bad things. This isn’t thegovernment’sresponsibility.

It’s ours (Miller 76).” Not all restrictions on electronic speech are bad. Most of the majoron-linecommunication companies have restrictions on what their users can “say.”Theymust respect their customer’s privacy, however. Private E-mail contentis off limitsto them, but they may act swiftly upon anyone who spouts obscenities ina publicforum. Self regulation by users and servers is the key to avoiding governmentimposedintervention. Many on-line sites such as Playboy and Penthouse havestarted toregulated themselves. Both post clear warnings that adult content liesahead andlists the countries where this is illegal.

The film and videogameindustries subjectthemselves to ratings, and if Internet users want to avoid governmentimposedregulations, then it is time they begin to regulate themselves. It allboils down toprotecting children from adult material, while protecting the firstamendment rightto free speech between adults. Government attempts to regulate the Internet are not just limited toobscenity andvulgar language, it also reaches into other areas, such as dataencryption.

By nature, the Internet is an insecure method of transferring data. Asingle E-mailpacket may pass through hundreds of computers from its source todestination. Ateach computer, there is the chance that the data will be archived andsomeone mayintercept that data. Credit card numbers are a frequent target ofhackers.Encryption is a means of encoding data so that only someone with theproper”key” can decode it. “Why do you need PGP (encryption)? It’s personal.

It’s private. And it’sno one’sbusiness but yours. You may be planning a political campaign, discussingourtaxes, or having an illicit affair. Or you may be doing something thatyou feelshouldn’t be illegal, but is. Whatever it is, you don’t want yourprivate electronicmail (E-mail) or confidential documents read by anyone else.

There’snothingwrong with asserting your privacy. Privacy is as apple-pie as theConstitution. Perhaps you think your E-mail is legitimate enough that encryption isunwarranted.If you really are a law-abiding citizen with nothing to hide, then whydon’t youalways send your paper mail on postcards? Why not submit to drug testingondemand? Why require a warrant for police searches of your house? Are youtryingto hide something? You must be a subversive or a drug dealer if you hideyour mailinside envelopes. Or maybe a paranoid nut. Do law-abiding citizens haveany needto encrypt their E-mail? What if everyone believed that law-abiding citizens should use postcardsfor theirmail? If some brave soul tried to assert his privacy by using anenvelope for hismail, it would draw suspicion. Perhaps the authorities would open hismail to seewhat he’s hiding. Fortunately, we don’t live in that kind of world,because everyoneprotects most of their mail with envelopes.

So no one draws suspicion byassertingtheir privacy with an envelope. There’s safety in numbers. Analogously,it wouldbe nice if everyone routinely used encryption for all their E-mail,innocent or not,so that no one drew suspicion by asserting their E-mail privacy withencryption.

Think of it as a form of solidarity (Zimmerman).” Until the development of the Internet, the U.S. government controlledmost newencryption techniques.

With the development of faster home computers andaworldwide web, they no longer hold control over encryption. Newalgorithms havebeen discovered that are reportedly uncrackable even by the FBI and theNSA.This is a major concern to the government because they want to maintaintheability to conduct wiretaps, and other forms of electronic surveillanceinto thedigital age. To stop the spread of data encryption software, the U.S.governmenthas imposed very strict laws on its exportation.

One very well known example of this is the PGP (Pretty Good Privacy)scandal.PGP was written by Phil Zimmerman, and is based on “public key”encryption.This system uses complex algorithms to produce two codes, one forencoding andone for decoding. To send an encoded message to someone, a copy of that person’s “public” key is needed. The sender uses this public key toencrypt thedata, and the recipient uses their “private” key to decode the message.AsZimmerman was finishing his program, he heard about a proposed Senatebill toban cryptography.

This prompted him to release his program for free,hoping that itwould become so popular that its use could not be stopped. One of theoriginalusers of PGP posted it to an Internet site, where anyone from anycountry coulddownload it, causing a federal investigator to begin investigating Philfor violationof this new law. As with any new technology, this program has allegedlybeen usedfor illegal purposes, and the FBI and NSA are believed to be unable tocrack thiscode.

When told about the illegal uses of him programs, Zimmermanreplies: “If I had invented an automobile, and was told that criminals used it torob banks, Iwould feel bad, too. But most people agree the benefits to society thatcome fromautomobiles — taking the kids to school, grocery shopping and such –outweightheir drawbacks.” (Levy 56).

Currently, PGP can be downloaded from MIT. They have a very complicated system that changes the location on the software to be sure that theyare protected.All that needs to be done is click “YES” to four questions dealing withexportationand use of the program, and it is there for the taking. This seems to bea lot oftrouble to protect a program from spreading that is already world wide. Thegovernment wants to protect their ability to legally wiretap, but whatgood does itdo them to stop encryption in foreign countries? They cannot legallywiretapsomeone in another country, and they sure cannot ban encryption in theU.

S. The government has not been totally blind to the need for encryption. For nearlytwo decades, a government sponsored algorithm, Data Encryption Standard(DES),has been used primarily by banks. The government always maintained theability todecipher this code with their powerful supercomputers. Now that newforms ofencryption have been devised that the government can’t decipher, theyareproposing a new standard to replace DES. This new standard is calledClipper, andis based on the “public key” algorithms.

Instead of software, Clipper isa microchipthat can be incorporated into just about anything (Television,Telephones, etc.).This algorithm uses a much longer key that is 16 million times morepowerful thanDES. It is estimated that today’s fastest computers would take 400billion years tobreak this code using every possible key. (Lehrer 378). “The catch: Atthe time ofmanufacture, each Clipper chip will be loaded with its own unique key,and theGovernment gets to keep a copy, placed in escrow. Not to worry, thoughtheGovernment promises that they will use these keys to read your trafficonly whenduly authorized by law.

Of course, to make Clipper completely effective,the nextlogical step would be to outlaw other forms of cryptography(Zimmerman).” “If privacy is outlawed, only outlaws will have privacy. Intelligenceagencies haveaccess to good cryptographic technology.

So do the big arms and drugtraffickers.So do defense contractors, oil companies, and other corporate giants.But ordinarypeople and grassroots political organizations mostly have not had accesstoaffordable “military grade” public-key cryptographic technology.

Untilnow. PGPempowers people to take their privacy into their own hands. There’s agrowingsocial need for it. That’s why I wrote it (Zimmerman).” The most important benefits of encryption have been convenientlyoverlooked bythe government.

If everyone used encryption, there would be absolutelyno waythat an innocent bystander could happen upon something they choose notto see.Only the intended receiver of the data could decrypt it (using publickeycryptography, not even the sender can decrypt it) and view itscontents. Eachcoded message also has an encrypted signature verifying the sender’sidentity. Thesender’s secret key can be used to encrypt an enclosed signaturemessage, thereby”signing” it. This creates a digital signature of a message, which therecipient (oranyone else) can check by using the sender’s public key to decrypt it. This provesthat the sender was the true originator of the message, and that themessage hasnot been subsequently altered by anyone else, because the sender alonepossessesthe secret key that made that signature. “Forgery of a signed message isinfeasible,and the sender cannot later disavow his signature(Zimmerman).

” Gonewould bethe hate mail that causes many problems, and gone would be the abilityto forge adocument with someone else’s address. The government, if it did not havealteriormotives, should mandate encryption, not outlaw it. As the Internet continues to grow throughout the world, more governmentsmaytry to impose their views onto the rest of the world through regulationsandcensorship. It will be a sad day when the world must adjust its views toconform tothat of the most prudish regulatory government. If too many regulationsareinacted, then the Internet as a tool will become nearly useless, and theInternet as amass communication device and a place for freedom of mind and thoughts,willbecome non existent.

The users, servers, and parents of the world mustregulatethemselves, so as not to force government regulations that may stiflethe bestcommunication instrument in history. If encryption catches on andbecomes aswidespread as Zimmerman predicts it will, then there will no longer be aneed forthe government to meddle in the Internet, and the biggest problem willwork itselfout. The government should rethink its approach to the censorship andencryptionissues, allowing the Internet to continue to grow and mature.

Works Cited Emler-Dewitt, Philip. “Censoring Cyberspace: Carnegie Mellon’s Attemptto BanSex from it’s Campus Computer Network Sends A Chill Along the InfoHighway.”Time 21 Nov. 1994; 102-105.

Lehrer, Dan. “The Secret Sharers: Clipper Chips and Cypherpunks.” TheNation10 Oct. 1994; 376-379. “Let the Internet Backlash Begin.

” Advertising Age 7 Nov. 1994; 24. Levy, Steven. “The Encryption Wars: is Privacy Good or Bad?” Newsweek 24Apr. 1995; 55-57. Miller, Michael. “Cybersex Shock.

” PC Magazine 10 Oct. 1995; 75-76. Wilson, David. “The Internet goes Crackers.

” Education Digest May 1995;33-36. Zimmerman, Phil. (1995). Pretty Good Privacy v2.62, Online. AvailableFtp:net-dist.mit.edu Directory: pub/pgp/dist File: Pgp262dc.zip

x

Hi!
I'm Adrienne!

Would you like to get a custom essay? How about receiving a customized one?

Check it out