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Version 27.0, February 2013
Bert-Jaap Koops
All rights reserved. Please credit if quoting.

Next update February 2014.

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This is a survey of existing and proposed laws and regulations on cryptography - systems used for protecting information against unauthorized access. Governments have long restricted export of cryptography for fear that their intelligence activities are hampered by the crypto use of foreign states and scoundrels. Since the rise of crypto use over the past decades, governments increasingly worry about criminals using cryptography to thwart law enforcement. Thus, many countries have passed laws or are considering laws to maintain law-enforcement and national-security capabilities through regulation of cryptography.

This survey gives an overview of the current state of affairs, with entries per country on import/export controls, domestic laws, developments to restrict cryptography, and developments favoring crypto use. For more background on the crypto policy dilemma, see my Ph.D. thesis The Crypto Controversy. A Key Conflict in the Information Society (Kluwer Law International, 1999).

Cryptography used for digital signatures is not covered by this survey. For regulation of digital signatures, see Digital Signatures and Law.

See also (but largely outdated): Stewart Baker & Paul Hurst, The Limits of Trust from August 1998 and the extensive survey by EPIC and GILC, Cryptography and Liberty 2000 (earlier version: 1998). And see generally on export controls Simo-Pekka Parviainen's thesis (particularly on the EU).


This survey of cryptography laws is based on several reports, information from the Internet and personal communications. I have not consulted all original texts of relevant regulations; in many cases, I have relied on the sources listed. These findings, therefore, do not pretend to be exhaustive or legally reliable.

Comments and questions

I thank all who have provided me with information for this survey. Please send comments, corrections, updates, and additional information to to help me keep this survey updated. If you have questions, feel free to ask, but please check the FAQ first.

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Updated on 25 February 2013.

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