Who Should Keep the Keys?

The U.S. government wants the power to tap into every phone, fax and computer transmission

Until quite recently, cryptography -- the science of making and breaking secret codes -- was, well, secret. In the U.S. the field was dominated by the National Security Agency, a government outfit so clandestine that the U.S. for many years denied its existence. The NSA, which gathers intelligence for national security purposes by eavesdropping on overseas phone calls and cables, did everything in its power to make sure nobody had a code that it couldn't break. It kept tight reins on the "keys" used to translate coded text into plain text, prohibiting the export of secret codes under U.S. munitions laws...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!