Security agencies accustomed to being able to open any safe balked at the notion—advanced by American tech giants like Apple and their allies in the cryptography and privacy communities—that encryption was sacrosanct. City, state, and federal law-enforcement officials began pushing Congress to require that tech companies only use encryption they could break, in case investigators needed to serve them with warrants for user data.
The computer-science professors, cryptographers, and digital-rights advocates who had beaten back similar demands in the 1990s experienced deja vu. That series of fights, which they called the “Crypto Wars,” had only been the first round of a prolonged conflict. Now it was time to settle in for Crypto Wars, Round 2.
But where and when did this new phase began? Pinpointing that exact moment may be impossible, but the timeline below provides a relatively comprehensive overview of the different fights that constitute the new Crypto War, from the early months after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks to the present day.