Re: Cryptography in the kernel

From: Robert Dinse (
Date: Thu Jun 01 2000 - 17:57:48 EST

On Thu, 1 Jun 2000 "Edward S. Marshall" <> wrote:
> ------------------------------
> On Thu, 1 Jun 2000, David Woodhouse wrote:
> > There are few of these countries now, and they could be served by someone
> > downloading the 'official' kernel and removing the crypto from it, then
> > putting the new tarball up for FTP.
> Exactly. There's no reason that Linus should have to take on the workload
> of producing crippled kernels for the sake of functionality that is
> illegal in a dwindling subsection of the world's population. If someone
> wants that kind of thing, they're free to make it available; just patch it
> with each release, and make the modified tarball available for download.
> Before decrying "do it for the poor underpriviledged in oppressive
> countries", find out exactly which countries will be affected. China is
> the only one that immediately springs to mind. France now permits it, so
> that's no longer an issue. Does anyone have a list of countries where the
> acquisition/distribution/use of strong cryptography is still illegal?

     If you look at the history of China with respect to technology they
initially banned because they considered it a threat to national security, once
it became apparent that technology was important to commerce the ban was either
lifted or the laws were never enforced.

     They used to route international calls through an operator so they could
be easily monitored, it proved to be too much of an impediment to international
commerce, that went away in favor of direct dial.

     When fax machines first came out they initially banned them. Businesses
and individuals imported them anyway, the law was never effectively enforced.
They then said, OK, you can legally have a FAX machine but you have to register
with the police department, less than 10% registered.

     The Internet came out, initially only approved organizations could have
access (much like Amerika initially), then it became available to students but
again, they wanted you to register with the police, and again, hardly anybody
did. Then they said, OK, but only Chinese providers are allowed, and now they
appear to be lifting that restriction at least in some places.

     So with respect to China, I suspect what will happen is if you include
cryptography in the Linux kernel, regardless of the law, they will use it,
there will be no meaningful enforcement, and eventually they'll give up trying
to ban it.

     And with the move in England to require all ISP's to have links to a
central monitoring location, and with continued pushing for escrow systems for
encryption in the US, I'm all for seeing cryptography included in the kernel.

     Things are way too Orwellian already.

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