This article draws on four state studies to address a myth of the contemporary debate on internet communications: that, in the face of an internet ‘going dark’, states face a choice between absolute privacy and unfettered access to data. The legal powers which already exist suggest that certain states have a range of possible means of access to encrypted data. The lack of awareness over these powers may be because, despite public debate, democratic oversight remains deficient, while judiciaries and other institutions play useful but limited roles. The cross-territorial nature of the internet presents regulatory challenges and opportunities for reform—albeit in an environment in which the myth of Crypto-Wars is far from useful.
- encryption, surveillance, Crypto-Wars, lawful access, terrorism