Förderverein Informationstechnik und Gesellschaft

Open Letter to the DTI

5 January 1999

From: "Brian Gladman" <> To: "UK Crypto List" <> Subject: The Publication of Cryptographic Source Code Date: Tue, 5 Jan 1999 22:36:43 -0000

Open Letter to the DTI -----------------------------

The UK government proposals to control 'intangible exports' leave a question mark over the future legality of cryptographic source code published via the World Wide Web.

A number of members of the ukcrypto mailing list (including both Ross Anderson and myself) have Web pages which provide cryptographic source code. It is possible that Web pages such as these might become illegal if intangible export controls are introduced in the UK.

In my own case I have been contributing to the US Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) effort being run by the US National Institute of Standards and Technology to replace DES. In particular I have a page at:

which provides full source code for DES and for all fifteen AES candidate encryption algorithms. Since US originated AES source code is export controlled, my source code has been widely downloaded and used by other researchers as a basis for their own AES comparisons. I believe this effort has made a worthwhile contribution to the AES effort and one that has been widely appreciated. This would not have been possible without the personal and academic freedom we currently enjoy in the UK to conduct and publish such research.

There is a lack of clarity in respect of the possible impact of the proposed controls on intangible exports in respect of such Web published cryptographic research. It is important that there is clarity here and I therefore request that the DTI provide a clear statement on the impact of future legislation on intangible exports in respect of such activities.

My question is hence a simple one:

Will the Web Page referenced above become illegal under any future government legislation on, or related to, the control of cryptography or intangible exports?

I would be most grateful if Nigel or John could secure a definitive answer on this from their Department.

If this government is going to turn me into a criminal I really would like to know before it actually happens!

Brian Gladman (