KEYS TO THE KINGDOM

To most private citizens of a certain age, encryption is a term of espionage, redolent of secretly coded messages sent by agents from behind enemy lines. In the modern world of computers, however, encryption -- also known as ``crypto'' -- has moved from the clandestine to the commonplace. The use of sophisticated codes and keys to protect the privacy of electronic exchanges has become the practical equivalent of sending messages by secret-agent courier. In the past year, moreover, encryption has become a code word in itself, representing a raging war that pits government against a broad coalition of private citizens eager...

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