Your IP: Unknown · Your Status: ProtectedUnprotectedUnknown

Skip to main content

Clipper chip

Clipper chip

Clipper chip definition

The Clipper chip refers to a chipset developed in the early 1990s in the U.S. It was meant to be used as an encryption device for communication while leaving backdoor access for the government. It uses the Skipjack algorithm, developed by the National Security Agency (NSA).

Luckily, after facing a lot of backlash from cybersecurity experts and the public, the U.S. government decided to abandon the idea.

See also: backdoor, government surveillance

The Clipper Chip’s drawbacks

  • Privacy concerns. Despite endless promises that the Clipper Chips would help save people’s privacy, cybersecurity experts feared government overreach and invasion of privacy, as the backdoor could potentially be misused for unauthorized surveillance.
  • Security vulnerabilities. Critics argued that any system with a built-in backdoor could never be truly secure. An intentional backdoor is a fundamental vulnerability that could be exploited not just by the government but by hackers and foreign entities.
  • Public trust issues. The proposal eroded trust between the government and the public, especially civil libertarians and privacy advocates.
  • Technological obsolescence. The rapid advancement of technology and encryption methods meant that the Clipper Chip’s technology could quickly become outdated. Long-term, maintaining the security of the chip would be impractical.
  • Market resistance. Technology companies didn’t want to take on the chip as producing a highly controversial device would diminish the reputation of American telecommunication products.

Further reading

Ultimate digital security