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The U.S. federal government faces a fundamental tension between two important policy objectives: 1) fostering the development and widespread use of cost-effective information security, and 2) controlling the proliferation of security technologies that can impair U.S. intelligence agencies and law-enforcement capabilities. This tension runs throughout the government activities as a developer, user, and regulator of security technologies. This tension is manifested in concerns over the proliferation of cryptography that could impair U.S. intelligence agencies and law enforcement, and in the resulting struggle to control cryptography through use of federal standards and export controls.
A National Cryptography Policy must balance a number of varied interests by taking into account the protection of privacy, intellectual property, business and financial information, as well as the needs for law enforcement and national security.