Thursday, 28 May 2015

Paranoid Defence Controls Could Criminalise Teaching Encryption


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In present world, where democracy and freedom are the buzzword, people are not ready to get under any kind of control in their individual and collective life. But we can see various kinds and degrees of controls or maneuverings are there, imposed by the state or statutory bodies to cut the free and uninterrupted access to many facilities in our life.

Education, teaching and research are not exception and get controlled in many ways that potentially curb the freedom of having knowledge on a variety of fields. It is always advocated by many scholars and academicians to keep the education and knowledge based research works out of any kind of direct or virtual control.

Defense Controls – A Synopsis

Defense Trade Controls Act has been passed in Australia and will be enforced very soon; according to that act, even innocent teaching and research activities, will be considered as an offence under Australian defense export control laws. People are at a bind about the technology supplies, as the government has a list, named Australian government's Defense and Strategic Goods List (DSGL), which contains some specific products those are considered very important for national security. In this perspective, the control has been imposed and the peculiarity of this list is; there are some listed products, which have both military and civil uses. This makes the control a real headache for everyone, involved in knowledge based profession and studies.

Even unknowingly one can be a potential lawbreaker by just sending a mail or message to someone outside the country, which can be adjudged as a criminal offence and could attract a penalty or even imprisonment. Encryption is one such issue that has a “dual-use” character; while one can use this as a mathematical subject but at the same time it has potentially being used in various military services. Therefore, there is always a danger in practicing this particular methodology because anytime the user may be caught on the wrong foot and succumbed to be booked under the law.

Encryption – A Brief Sketch

This is nothing but a process, where by encoding and decoding, the two important part of cryptography, of a message, the privacy of the message are being maintained. Encryption is used in our daily life in many ways to protect the consumer right, identity theft etc. and is not confined in the very bastion of defense spying and espionage activities. Nowadays, both encryption and decryption are important parts of the secured communication study. Like vehicles, telephones; encryption also falls in the category of “dual-use” product and exposed to the vulnerability.

Law, Encryption and more…

Now, if the state misuses its power to curb the study of encryption, it would have long and deep consequences in the teaching process. The people, involved in this particular segment of study, will try their best to acquire the knowledge and always with a fear of breaking the bindings of the law. Teaching of Encryption would essentially ruin the joy of getting knowledge, due to this control, and make the study more and more of criminal nature.

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