The rights to encryption in the United States have been shaped by a complex legal and policy landscape, marked by significant events, court cases, and evolving regulations. The early 1990s saw major battles over encryption, focusing on the export of encryption technologies and the National Security Agency's (NSA) introduction of the Clipper chip. The Clipper chip, announced in 1993, aimed to encrypt communications while allowing the NSA access but was discontinued in 1996 due to civil liberty concerns and technical vulnerabilities‚Äč[](https://www.brookings.edu/articles/a-brief-history-of-u-s-encryption-policy/)‚Äč. The legal landscape around encryption was significantly impacted by the case Bernstein v. United States, in which Daniel J. Bernstein, a student at the University of California, Berkeley, challenged the government's restrictions on the export of cryptography. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Bernstein, stating that software source code is protected speech under the First Amendment. This landmark decision has implications for the legal protection of encryption technologies and has been cited in ongoing debates about encryption and privacy‚Äč[](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bernstein_v._United_States)‚Äč‚Äč[](https://www.eff.org/cases/bernstein-v-us-dept-justice)‚Äč. U.S. export regulations have evolved over time, with the Export Administration Regulations (EAR) controlling the export of non-military encryption items. These regulations classify encryption products and technologies under various categories, imposing licensing requirements based on the destination country and the nature of the encryption item‚Äč[](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Export_of_cryptography_from_the_United_States)‚Äč. Despite these legal battles and evolving regulations, there is currently no U.S. legislation that explicitly grants a general right to encryption. Instead, the legal right to use encryption is indirectly impacted by various laws and policies, including export controls and debates over law enforcement access to encrypted communications. The ongoing tension between privacy advocates, technology companies, and government agencies highlights the need for continued attention to the legal and policy framework governing encryption in the U.S. Sources: - Brookings Institution. (2016, April 19). A brief history of U.S. encryption policy. Brookings. Retrieved from [https://www.brookings.edu](https://www.brookings.edu/) - Electronic Frontier Foundation. (n.d.). Bernstein v. US Department of Justice. Electronic Frontier Foundation. Retrieved from https://www.eff.org/cases/bernstein-v-us-department-justice - Wikipedia. (n.d.). Bernstein v. United States. Wikipedia. Retrieved from [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bernstein_v._United_States](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bernstein_v._United_States) - Wikipedia. (n.d.). Export of cryptography from the United States. Wikipedia. Retrieved from [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Export_of_cryptography_from_the_United_States](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Export_of_cryptography_from_the_United_States) --- Licensed under [CC BY-SA 4.0](https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/) by J. Lamberg. Updated 2024-02-21.