Why has the US got it in for cryptographers?

Ross Anderson is one of my most remarkable academic colleagues. He’s one of the world’s leading experts on cryptography, a Fellow of the Royal Society and a thoroughly good egg. His landmark book Security Engineering: A Guide to Building Dependable Distributed Systems (which is now going into a third edition) has recently been inducted into the cybersecurity canon, but Ross’s application for a US visa to attend the gala awards ceremony has been mysteriously flagged for a four-month “administrative review” by the US immigration authorities. So he decided to give his acceptance speech in Cambridge and relay it via YouTube.

Interestingly, another world expert on cryptography, Adi Shamir, (he’s the “S” in “RSA”) was denied a visa to visit the USA to participate in this year’s RSA conference. Shamir is a recipient of the Turing Prize — computer science’s answer to the Nobel Prize. And other attendees at the conference reported that other crypto experts have been denied access to the US.

So what’s going on?

UPDATE Ross has made the second edition of his book available as a free download from here. In the same place you can also find advance drafts of several of the new chapters of the forthcoming third edition.