September 2, 1998
The last few days I have been doing commentaries on the issue of privacy. Today I want to address another important issue: encryption. Now stay with me. That's a big word for a big issue that you need to know about.

Encryption is a relatively new technology that enables you to have private phone conversations and send e-mail messages that are secure. Encryption codes your words so that they cannot be deciphered by people listening in on your conversation or reading your mail.

As you may know, nosy people can listen in on your wireless phone calls (cellular or cordless phones). And they can intercept and read your e-mail. And we all know that people will do that. If you have ever had a phone on a party line, you know that people listen in.

What you may not know is that various members of the Clinton administration (like Attorney General Janet Reno and FBI Director Louis Freeh) are demanding the authority to read encrypted messages. Now remember that the Fourth Amendment guarantees citizens be free of unreasonable searches and seizures. Nevertheless, these and other law enforcement officers believe they have the right to open your mail.

What they are asking for is the key to the code. When you send a message in code, you need a key to enable you to send the code and the recipients to read the code. The Clinton administration is demanding access to all encryption keys. Frankly, you only see this level of surveillance in totalitarian countries. If government has the key, then it could call up information on you, your family, your medical records, your bank records, your credit card purchases, and your e-mail messages to all of your friends and relatives. Do you want the federal government to have that much power over your life? I didn't think so. Neither do I.

I'm Kerby Anderson of Probe Ministries, and that's my opinion.

© 1998 Probe Ministries International