BIG BROTHER VS. CYPHERPUNKS

For more than three years, the White House and the U.S. computer industry have sat locked, eyeball to eyeball, in a seemingly intractable face-off over who will control the secret codes that protect our most sensitive communications. The government claimed to be working to protect us from nuke-carrying terrorists; the computer industry said it was championing the individual's right to privacy. Neither was telling the whole truth.

Last week, in a concession to Silicon Valley, the Administration blinked--or perhaps it merely winked. Fittingly, in the arcane world of code making and breaking, it's difficult to ferret out who's doing what to...

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