Computing Community Consortium Blog

The goal of the Computing Community Consortium (CCC) is to catalyze the computing research community to debate longer range, more audacious research challenges; to build consensus around research visions; to evolve the most promising visions toward clearly defined initiatives; and to work with the funding organizations to move challenges and visions toward funding initiatives. The purpose of this blog is to provide a more immediate, online mechanism for dissemination of visioning concepts and community discussion/debate about them.

NSF WATCH Talk- Crypto Wars: Plus ça Change, Plus c’est la Même Chose

April 18th, 2016 / in Announcements, NSF, Research News / by Helen Wright

landauThe next WATCH talk, called Crypto Wars: Plus ça Change, Plus c’est la Même Chose is Thursday, April 21, 2016 from Noon-1pm EDT.

The presenter will be Susan Landau, professor of Cybersecurity Policy in the Department of Social Science and Policy Studies at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. Landau works at the intersection of cybersecurity, national security, law, and policy. During the Crypto Wars of the 1990s, her insights on how government encryption policy skewed civil society and business needs for security helped win the argument for a relaxation of cryptographic export controls. Beginning in the early 2000s, Landau was an early voice in the argument that law-enforcement requirements for embedding surveillance within communications infrastructures created long-term national-security risks. Her position that securing private-sector telecommunications was in the national-security interest ran contrary to public thinking at the time and deeply influenced policy makers and scholars. Landau’s book ”Surveillance or Security? The Risks Posed by New Wiretapping Technologies,” (MIT Press) won the 2012 Surveillance Studies Book Prize, while ”Privacy on the Line: the Politics of Wiretapping and Encryption ”co-authored with Whitfield Diffie (MIT Press, 1998) won the IEEE-USA Award for Distinguished Literary Contributions Furthering Public Understanding of the Profession and the McGannon Book Award for Social and Ethical Relevance in Communication Policy Research. Landau has testified to Congress and frequently briefed US and European policymakers on encryption, surveillance, and cybersecurity issues. She received her BA from Princeton, her MS from Cornell, and her PhD from MIT.

Landau was also on the organizing committee for the Computing Community Consortium (CCC) Privacy by Design workshop series which is working on their final report.


The US government and cryptographers, industry, and academia faced off in the 1990s over the ability to use strong encryption.  The government’s tool of choice to prevent deployment was export controls. In 1996 the National Research Council issued a report on cryptography policy that concluded “On balance, the advantages of more widespread use of cryptography outweigh the disadvantages”; in 2000, the US government substantively loosened export controls.  Deployment was nonetheless slow — until the Snowden disclosures.  Apple and Google’s efforts to provide easy-to-use, widely deployed consumer encryption has clashed with FBI and Department of Justice investigative techniques, and twenty years later, we are in Crypto Wars II.  This talk will explain the conflicts and equities involved.

The talk will be held in Room 110 at the National Science Foundation in Arlington, VA. No RSVP is necessary, and no visitor badges are required. It will also be webcast; you can register here

NSF WATCH Talk- Crypto Wars: Plus ça Change, Plus c’est la Même Chose