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Virtual Private Networks, Second Edition by Paul Wolfe, Charlie Scott, Mike Erwin

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Patents and Legal Ramifications

Cryptographic routines are complex mathematical systems, and the people who have created them are experts who have spent a great deal of resources to create and protect their systems. As any good lawyer will tell you, intellectual property is just as tangible as real property, and in some cases easier to support in a court of law. Even using some technologies could constitute a legally binding agreement with the software’s creators, so you need to take care when dealing with any and all such systems.

Tip

The U.S. government classifies all encryption routines as munitions, which is to say that they consider the mathematical formulas that protect data a dangerous technology. Cryptography, to the Feds, is the same as treason, illegal arms trading, smuggling, racketeering, and drug sales. The boys on the Hill do not take such matters lightly, either. You may ask yourself, “How could a little code hurt the giant U.S. government or its citizens?” To learn exactly why the government treats these technologies with such kid gloves, we have to look back at some historical elements. Remember the “enigma” box? It was a WWII German code box that scrambled military orders sent from the high command to the field. Along similar lines, the Japanese had developed a system involving a code box called “Purple.” In times of war, code cracking and encryption take on a very important role, best described by the saying: “loose lips sink ships.” The protection of even ...

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