> From: John C Klensin <john-ietf(_at_)jck(_dot_)com>
> I can certainly remember times in the US in which discussions of
> certain types of cryptographic topics with foreign nationals present
> was treated as export of cryptographic technology and subject to all
> sorts of restrictions as a result. It may have been an export
> restriction rather than a discussion restriction, but the practical
> difference was zero.
It is true that some security bureacrats tried to apply some existing laws in
a very expansive way (e.g. to limit discussion and publication). However, in
a series of court cases (most notably Bernstein v. United States, and Junger
v. Daley) these attempts on the part of some government functionaries were
struck down by the US courts.
Junger is particularly on point:
Junger sought an injunction against the enforcement of provisions of the
International Traffic in Arms Regulations that require him to get the
permission of the State Department's Office of Defense Trade Controls ...
before he can communicate information about cryptographic software to
foreign persons, "whether in the United States or abroad." ... These
provisions effectively prevent Junger from admitting foreign students to
the course that he teaches
(from the EFF web site on the case). Note that the Sixth Circuit (Junger v.
Daley, 209 F.3d 481 - 6th Cir. 2000) found in favour of Junger, on
In other words - security bureacrats tried an expansive power grab that would
have limited the ability to discuss cryptographic topics. (What a shock,
bureacrats trying a power grab.... But I digress.)
However, because there was an _independent and empowered_ judicial branch,
and a constitution which provided rights which that judicial branch was
determined to uphold _in practise_, this attempt was beaten back.
I trust the moral is clear...
(Let me apologize to the non-US people in the IETF for the US-centric nature
of this part of this post. It's necessarily US-centric because the example
cited in the message I'm replying to was US-centric.
FWIW, I'm not a US citizen - I'm acturally Bermudian - so I am personally
quite sensitive to the need to understand that the rest of the world is not a
clone of the US.)
>> I can't think of one where "discuss[ion] or design[ing]" anything
>> would have been prohibited.
> I don't think it helps to exaggerate the differences by suggesting that
> there are no restrictions on discussion of sensitive topics anywhere
> else in the world.
Ah, I was insufficiently precise. In asking about "'discuss[ion] or
design[ing]' anything", I was speaking of things within the IETF's normal
scope of topics. I.e. the "anything" there was not meant to be read as
"anything at all", so my statement was not as expansive as you perhaps seem
to have thought it might have been.
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