In This Review

Cryptography's Role in Securing the Information Society
Cryptography's Role in Securing the Information Society
Edited by Kenneth W. Dam and Herbert S. Lin
National Academy Press, 1996, 688 pp

In late 1993 Congress directed the National Academy of Sciences to produce an up-to-date assessment of cryptographic technologies and national cryptographic policy. A 16-member committee has done prodigious work in pulling together a compendium airing all aspects of public policy toward cryptography, normally an arcane subject for mathematicians or military signals specialists. The committee argues for much more general availability and much greater use of cryptography in a world where information holds the key to commercial as well as military and diplomatic success. The resulting report, like most committee reports, makes for dry reading, but it contains a wealth of information, accessible to the general reader, on the current state of cryptography and on the controversies surrounding public policy on its use, export, and availability to law enforcement officials.