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Seny Kamara Co-Authors An NAS Report On Encryption

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Just over a year ago, Professor Seny Kamara of Brown University's Department of Computer Science (Brown CS), along with 13 other experts from academia and industry, was appointed to a new committee created by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS). The committee ("Law Enforcement and Intelligence Access to Plaintext Information in an Era of Widespread Strong Encryption: Options and Tradeoffs") is part of the organization's Division on Engineering and Physical Sciences, and it's been working to examine the tradeoffs associated with mechanisms to provide authorized government agencies with access to the plaintext version of encrypted information. 

Last week, the committee released their first report ("Decrypting the Encryption Debate: A Framework for Decision Makers"), with the goal of better informing the policy debate and future decision making on encryption. The report covers the entire spectrum of how encryption is used, including:

  • its applications to cybersecurity
  • its role in protecting privacy and civil liberties
  • the needs of law enforcement and the intelligence community for information
  • technical and policy options for accessing plaintext, and
  • the international landscape

In an area where there's little consensus among government officials, privacy advocates, and industry and academic experts, it's an attempt to create the language and shape the outlines of a dialogue that will inform leading policymakers worldwide. "The committee hopes," they write, "that the common vocabulary and broad context provided by this report, as well as the analytical framework, will make future conversations easier, more productive, and more likely." 

For more information, click the link that follows to contact Brown CS Communication Outreach Specialist Jesse C. Polhemus.