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Smartphone Apps, Cryptography and Export Controls

Posted by Craig H on 15 January 2012

You can’t work in software product security for as long as I have and not learn something about export controls, like it or not! Historically, many governments regarded encryption as military technology and defined and controlled it as such in their regulations. These days, pretty much anyone who uses the Internet or a mobile phone (and that’s more than 2/3 of the world’s entire population) uses encryption every day, for shopping on the web, logging in to social networks, or simply to call their friends. Nevertheless, export control regulations for encryption are still on the statute books of most countries around the world, and could still be enforced. The UK records of export control prosecutions and fines don’t include any relating to encryption technology in recent years; I would be interested to know if there have been any elsewhere.

Although I have sat in many export control meetings with lawyers over the last twenty-some years, I have to point out that I am not a lawyer, and this is not legal advice. I just thought it might interest others if I share my thinking on the current regimes of export controls, as I’m now in the situation of needing to consider it (again) as we want to publish an Android app that contains cryptographic technology (a simulation of a World War II Enigma machine, more on this soon…)

The main things I’ve learned about export controls on cryptography are that common sense often doesn’t apply and nothing is ever simple.
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Posted in Applications, Cryptography, Enigma, Export Control | 1 Comment »