The design tension between security and surveillance has existed for decades. This article specifically examines the protocol design tension between national security interests in surveillance versus network security in the early decades of the Internet and its predecessor networks. Using archival research and protocol-specific case studies, this article describes episodes in which the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) assessed whether to build wiretapping capability into protocols, made specific engineering decisions regarding security and surveillance, and entered broader global debates about encryption strength and government policies to institute cryptographic controls that facilitate surveillance. This study reveals that, even as protocol design has continuously evolved and adapted to changing political, socioeconomic, and technological contexts, the Internet engineering community has consistently staked out a consensus position pushing back against technologically based indiscriminate government surveillance.


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pp. 72-83
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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