From the Very Creation of the Internet, U.S. Spy Agencies Fought to Block Encryption

American spy agencies have intentionally weakened digital security for many decades. This breaks the functionality of our computers and of the Internet. It reduces functionality and reduces security by – for example – creating backdoors that malicious hackers can get through.

The spy agencies have treated patriotic Americans who want to use encryption to protect their privacy as extremists … or even terrorists.

As Gizmodo’s Matt Novak points out, this attack started at the very birth of the internet:

In the 1970s, civilian researchers at places like IBM, Stanford and MIT were developing encryption to ensure that digital data sent between businesses, academics and private citizens couldn’t be intercepted and understood by a third party. This concerned folks in the U.S. intelligence community who didn’t want to get locked out of potentially eavesdropping on anyone, regardless of their preferred communications method. Despite their most valiant efforts, agencies like the NSA ultimately lost out to commercial interests. But it wasn’t for lack of trying.


When the NSA got wind of the research developments at IBM, Stanford and MIT in the 1970s they scrambled to block publication of their early studies. When that didn’t work, the NSA sought to work with the civilian research community to develop the encryption. As Stowsky writes, “the agency struck a deal with IBM to develop a data encryption standard (DES) for commercial applications in return for full pre-publication review and right to regulate the length, and therefore the strength of the crypto algorithm.”

Naturally, in the Watergate era, many researchers assumed that if the U.S. government was helping to develop the locks that they would surely give themselves the keys, effectively negating the purpose of the encryption. Unlike IBM, the researchers at Stanford and MIT didn’t go along with the standard and developed their own encryption algorithms. Their findings were published (again, against the wishes of the NSA) in the late 1970s after courts found that researchers have the right to publish on the topic of cryptography even if it makes the government uncomfortable. According to Stowsky, the NSA retaliated by trying to block further research funding that Stanford and MIT were receiving through the National Science Foundation.

Novak also notes that – right from the start – people realized the potential of the internet as a tool for conducting mass surveillance on the public. And see this, this and this.

This entry was posted in Politics / World News, Science / Technology. Bookmark the permalink.
  • Steve smith

    The internet was never created. It appeared after evolving from a primordial digital 0 that came from nothing. It then evolved into a 1. The 1 then became several 1’s. The 0’s became many 0’s. Soon they got together and evolved into a program….all by themselves. Nobody created those programs. They evolved.

    Then those programs got together and because there was nowhere for those programs to be used, the computer then started to appear. At first they were single key single byte devices that just happened. Soon those computers evolved into what we have today. Nobody created computers.

    Pretty soon those computers which became more advanced by evolution, met up with a force that they could never possibly imagined. A force that, unless dealt with through evolution of alternative programs, could have destroyed the computers and the Internet that we know of today because it was so powerful. That force was Microsoft. Microsoft was created….by Satan himself.

    Nobody created this reply. It evolved.

    • laughing fool

      Conspiracy theory!!1
      Everyone knows MSDOS spawned Satan, after a pirate said ARRR to IBM for a hefty sum.

  • laughing fool

    They don’t hate us ’cause we’re free… They hate us ’cause our gov’mint broke the interwebs