From Playstation to Detonation

By Re, Richard | Harvard International Review, Spring 2001 | Go to article overview

From Playstation to Detonation


Re, Richard, Harvard International Review


The Potential Threat of Dual-Use Technology

While video-game lovers around the world rejoiced at the opportunity to play W "Duke Nukem: Total Meltdown" on the newly released Sony Playstation 2, the Japanese government was preparing its case to impose export controls on the revolutionary gaming system on the grounds that it represented "a general-purpose product related to conventional weapons." The argument was straightforward the new Playstation came with a 128-bit microprocessor fast enough to humble the speediest desktop processors and a graphics card capable of such precision that it could guide a cruise missile. Fearing that hostile states and terrorist groups might use this gaming system for aggressive ends, the government passed a new law restricting exportation from Japan to no more than a few units at a time, under penalty of fines and imprisonment. Though this policy might deter some smugglers, it is difficult to imagine that any government intervention could prevent a widely-available and easily portable commercial product from reaching th e wrong hands.

The Playstation 2 problem is not unique. As the level of technological sophistication in commercial products increases, so does the likelihood that states without indigenous technological expertise will import these products and adapt them to their own ends. So-called "dual-use" commodities- including computer, aerospace, chemical, biological, and electronic devices-can be found in virtually any high-tech market, making their eventual dissemination inevitable. But because these technologies can be applied so easily to encryption, missile control, and other military projects, they pose a significant threat to the very nations that produce them. In a world where one nation's household tool is another's offensive weapon, policymakers concerned with stopping the flow of dual-use technologies to potential enemies are left with an impossible challenge.

The Encryption Debate

Political and commercial leaders alike have long faced a similar challenge in the debate over regulation of encryption-related technologies and software. The ability to intercept and analyze communications is vital to espionage, anti-terrorist, and law-enforcement operations, providing technologically-savvy countries with a strong motive to protect their own encryption abilities.

But the importance of encryption is not limited to national security. Corporations, especially e-businesses, also rely on airtight security to prevent fraud and earn public trust. This need has prompted international businesses to demand from their governments the right to use advanced encryption software and technologies, whether from domestic companies or from abroad.

Beginning in 1996, the US government tried to reconcile the interests of national security and commercial interests by establishing a 56-bit cap encryption export level. International corporations and certain financial institutions operating in foreign nations were exempt from this restriction. There was no cap on the degree of encryption that could be developed or used domestically.

Though modifications to this policy were made, any fixed standard set in the rapidly-changing world of computer science was bound to be inadequate. Within a few years, 56-bit encryption software became readily available both in foreign markets and from publicly-accessible Internet sources. Faster computers also meant that the old standard of 56-bit encryption posed far less of a challenge to code breakers than it did when the policy was implemented. In fact, while the prohibition was still in place, companies routinely employed encryption methods much stronger than those allowed for international use. The situation was further complicated by the fact that there was no international consensus on encryption export regulation. As a result, US businesses were unable to offer the same level of encryption to their international clients as businesses based in less stringently regulated countries could. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • A full archive of books and articles related to this one
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

From Playstation to Detonation
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

    Already a member? Log in now.