Even if you don't have a computer or you are not connected to the Internet, you have to deal more or less with data transfers that regard your intimacy. It's obvious you wouldn't like to find out that this information has got into hands that are not exactly benevolent.
For the moment, the real world is studded with terrorists, thieves, hackers and fanatics and in certain cases, not exactly extraordinarily, you may be a victim of the lack of security. This time, security implies defending a fundamental human right, the right to privacy. This right is extremely well protected in several states by various organizations, that are actively involved into influencing the governmental decisions that might affect this right.
That is why in the USA, the discussion on encryption has not only a technical part but it mainly consists of a virulent debate on democracy and fundamental rights. There are a few issues that stand out in this fight that have carried away even the legal experts across the Ocean.
First, there is the domestic security problem, that involves a powerful encryption for private use, the access to which is denied to the Government. The absolute freedom encryption supporters require that no legislation should allow the Government or the Federal Agencies (especially teh FBI) to control the encryption models, arguing that such a demand would be similar to installing video cameras in any room in the USA (n.b.) to break in without legal warrant.
Does it surprise you? Obviously, the fbi-sts arguments stress criminality, national security and the impossibility of getting samples valid for Court. The second issue is the exportation of encryption programmes to otheer countries At present, programmes containing encryption elements are sold in the USA in two ways.
The first, for "house use", refers to the powerful algorithms that can't be crossed the border. The American citizens who travel for business with their laptops have customs difficultiesif they have such programmes installed.
The second manner of delivery is the "bon pour l'Orient"one, with a weaker encryption system, the breaking of which is just a matter of hours and some money. For example, a 56 bits code is broken by a machine worth $ 250,000 in 56 hours. If we consider that this code is used on the Internet for several transactions on the Web in Europe, we'll get a picture of the profit rate of the business.
More than that, the supporters of powerful encryption exportation (128 bits) bring in the argument that prohibiting such exportation is a violation of the right to free expression, the famous first amendment and means leaving the civilised world unprotected against criminal organizations.
You can find a history of the topic and more documentation at www.crypto.com, www.washingtonpost.com, www.privacy.com. .