RealNews

Encryption proponents brace for new threats in name of fighting terrorism

Cheating on income taxes or neglecting to pay sales taxes on online shopping could get you five extra years in prison if the government succeeds in restricting data-scrambling technology, encryption-rights advocates fear. Such a measure, they worry, might also discourage human rights workers in, say, Sri Lanka from encrypting the names and addresses of their confidants, in case they fall into the wrong hands. Draft legislation circulating in the Justice Department would extend prison sentences for scrambling data in the commission of a crime, something encryption advocates fear would achieve little in catching terrorists — and only hurt legitimate uses of cryptography. “Why should the fact that you use encryption have anything to do with how guilty you are and what the punishment should be?” asks Stanton McCandlish of the CryptoRights Foundation, which teaches human rights workers to use encryption. “Should we have enhanced penalties because someone wore an overcoat?” Full Story

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