Electronic Frontier Foundation Media Advisory

Professor Pushes for Revised Encryption Regulations

Govt. Censorship of Cryptography Research Unconstitutional

For Immediate Release: Monday, January 7, 2002

San Francisco - Professor Daniel J. Bernstein today renews his court battle against U.S. government obstructions to Internet security research.

Bernstein's court complaint, to be filed today by Rich Winter and Sarah Pace of the Chicago-based firm McBride Baker & Coles, challenges the constitutionality of the government's regulations on cryptography. Internet software uses cryptography to keep passwords and credit-card numbers safe from attackers.

"I'm trying to help protect computer systems against terrorists and other criminals," said Bernstein, who first filed legal action against the regulations as a Berkeley graduate student in 1995. "It's inexcusable that the government is continuing to interfere with my research in cryptography and computer security."

The U.S. government has imposed unilateral "national security" controls on encryption research and software for decades. Although strong cryptographic software has been available in Europe for many years, the U.S. government changed its cryptography regulations only two years ago in response to increased frustration by U.S. businesses and Professor Bernstein's successful legal case. However, current U.S. cryptography regulations are more complicated and obscure, restricting the flow of scientific information.

"The regulations require, for example, that whenever scientists disclose something new to a foreign colleague they simultaneously send it to the government," Winter said. "This makes in-person collaboration practically impossible."

Attorney Cindy Cohn of McGlashan and Sarrail led the case through a series of victories. In 1999, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed that earlier regulations violated the First Amendment. After the government changed the regulations in response, the appellate court sent the case back to the U.S. District Court. Cohn subsequently joined EFF as Legal Director and transferred the lead position on the case to McBride, Baker & Coles. The case will continue to challenge these regulations until they offer full protection for academic freedom and the Constitutional rights of researchers and programmers.


The government is scheduled to respond to Professor Bernstein's complaint by February 4, 2002, in the Federal District Court for the Northern District of California.

For the recent court complaint in the Bernstein case:   http://www.eff.org/bernstein/20020107_amended_complaint.html

For additional information about the Bernstein case:

About McBride Baker & Coles:

McBride Baker & Coles is a dynamic, client-focused law firm helping businesses compete and grow in a technology-driven world. The firm provides legal services in nearly every area of the law to businesses, organizations, government entities, and individuals. The firm's website is at;

About EFF:

The Electronic Frontier Foundation is the leading civil liberties organization working to protect rights in the digital world. Founded in 1990, EFF actively encourages and challenges industry and government to support free expression, privacy, and openness in the information society. EFF is a member-supported organization and maintains one of the most linked-to Web sites in the world:


Daniel Bernstein, Associate Professor,
Department of Mathematics, Statistics, and Computer Science
University of Illinois at Chicago   press-20020107@cr.yp.to
  +1 312-413-9322

Rich Winter, McBride Baker & Coles
  +1 312-715-5796

- end -

Please send any questions or comments to webmaster@eff.org.