A National Security Agency employee will continue to co-chair an influential group that helps to develop cryptographic standards designed to protect Internet communications, despite calls that he should be removed.
Kevin Igoe, a senior cryptographer with the NSA's Commercial Solutions Center, is one of two co-chairs of the Crypto Forum Research Group (CFRG), which provides cryptographic guidance to working groups that develop widely used standards for the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF). On Sunday, the chair of the group that oversees appointments to the CFRG rejected a recent call that Igoe be removed in light of recent revelations that the NSA has worked to deliberately weaken international encryption standards.
"Widespread wiretapping by nation-state adversaries is a threat unlike any other in the history of the Internet, but I do not believe that preventing interested people from participating in the IRTF or IETF based solely on their affiliation will help us combat that threat," Lars Eggert, chair of the Internet Research Task Force (IRTF), wrote in an e-mail. The IRTF focuses on long-term research and is responsible for the CFRG and eight other research groups. Meanwhile, the IETF is a parallel organization that focuses on shorter term engineering standards that are crucial for the Internet, such as the Transport Layer Security (TLS) protocol for Web encryption.