From the Cold War to the Crypto War




Shumate, Nicholas

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After the Cold War came to a close, in the United States a new informational society emerged from the rubble. This society, based on open access to information, challenged decades old policies of closed information. Encryption and access to cryptographic systems played a huge role in this paradigm. Stemming from the Counterculturalist movements in the 1960's, these trends towards open access to information climaxed during the early 1990s. Individuals, such as those found at the Computer, Freedom, and Information Conventions as well as on the online message board, the WELL, fought against information security governmental entities such as the NSA. As the NSA reevaluated its mission in the post-Cold War era, these crypto-advocates challenged the decades old monopoly the U.S. government had on encryption standards. By 1996, the pressures on the U.S. government made by these crypto-advocates as well as by private industry opened up the government's monopoly on cryptography.



Cold War, Encryption, National Security Agency, Cryptography