Comments on Crypto Regulation by Jörg Tauss

Translation and Commentary by Christopher Kuner


The following are comments made by Jörg Tauss, a member of the German Federal Parliament, in Darmstadt on June 28, 1996, at a seminar on the "Legal Structure of Information Technology". Tauss is well-known in Germany as a prominent opponent of cryptography regulation, and is a member of the opposition Social Democratic Party (SPD). Tauss's comments show the extent of the political opposition in Germany to cryptography regulation.


Data security is, in addition to a technical infrastructure, one of the direct conditions for any sort of development of the information society.

A restriction or even a prohibition of cryptography would destroy all trust in the use of the "Infobahn". This is also true if one considers the possibility of criminal elements using the data highways, just as they today use the telephone networks and public streets.

A prohibition of cryptography because of fear of crime would not be technically possible and legally implementable, and would in effect only be a false solution with a symbolic effect.

Such a development would, on the contrary, promote criminal elements in data networks.

The unsecure exchange of data without the use of various cryptographic techniques could even open the door to techno-terrorism as computer use increases in all areas of society.

If data security is not achieved then even attacks on public security (for example, on the electronic control of power plants or transport navigation systems) would become conceivable.

The manipulation of patient data and even fatal attacks on patients themselves is only another example of the possible results arising from insufficient data security.

Further criminal violations of the law would also be possible in areas where (as in electronic business transactions) the confidentiality of the transfer and processing of data is vital.

Therefore, in order to achieve data security, the unlimited permission to use cryptographic processes which the participants can choose is absolutely essential.