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The International Legal Dynamics of Encryption

Ashley Deeks
Wednesday, October 12, 2016, 2:46 PM

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To date there has been little international coordinated action to address encryption, though interest is growing. If international discussions occur, what will they look like, in what forums might they take place, and on what aspects of encryption will they focus? This paper looks at encryption through five different international lenses: human rights, law enforcement, intelligence, economics, and export controls. It evaluates the current views of US and foreign actors in each framework, describes international discussions (if any) that have transpired, and identifies factors that may drive outcomes.

The paper concludes that the United States has several procedural opportunities to shape international discussions about encryption. The current US intelligence advantage in obtaining access to encrypted information and the significant value to the United States of end-to-end encryption in the economic and rights frameworks mean that the United States should either affirmatively advance or passively allow end-to-end encryption as the preferred posture in the international arena.

The International Legal Dynamics of Encryption by Hoover Institution on Scribd

Ashley Deeks is the Class of 1948 Professor of Scholarly Research in Law at the University of Virginia Law School and a Faculty Senior Fellow at the Miller Center. She serves on the State Department’s Advisory Committee on International Law. In 2021-22 she worked as the Deputy Legal Advisor at the National Security Council. She graduated from the University of Chicago Law School and clerked on the Third Circuit.

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