Statement from the International Association for Cryptologic Research (IACR)
Condemning the U.S. President’s 2017-01-27 Executive Order
Barring Entry into the U.S. of Citizens from Seven Muslim-Majority Countries

January 29, 2017

The International Association for Cryptologic Research (IACR) is the scientific organization dedicated to advancing the theory and practice of cryptology worldwide. Our members contribute to the advance of critical information security techniques. These work toward making the Internet safe, protecting e-commerce, securing computer storage, and enabling the safe use of mobile phones. Members of the IACR, who come from around the world, developed many of the cryptographic methods that have been standardized by the USA’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and which are in use worldwide, such as the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES).

The IACR strongly opposes U.S. President Donald Trump’s Executive Order suspending visas to nationals of seven Muslim-majority countries. We declare such actions, which hurt international collaboration, to pose a concrete and direct threat to our mission, and to the continued international contributions of our members to society, industry, and government.

The open exchange of ideas is essential to the work the IACR does, and to the advance of scientific knowledge and technology more broadly. The open exchange of ideas requires freedom of movement — as when non-U.S. citizens attend IACR-sponsored conferences held in the USA, a completely routine activity.

All individuals are entitled to participate in IACR conferences, regardless of their country of origin. Barring citizens of out-of-favor countries from entering the United States sunders basic scientific and community norms. These norms were strained even before the executive action, with many scholars facing untoward barriers to getting U.S. visas.

The United States itself benefits from participation in the international academic community, as when international graduate students and postdoctoral scholars study at U.S. universities, and when non-U.S. professors visit the U.S. to collaborate on research or share their knowledge. Our community’s work, which often involves teams from many countries, directly contributes to the successful efforts of U.S. industry.

Running an international scientific society that contributes to innovations in science and technology is not easy. The implications of this executive order are unpredictable. In response to it, other nations may take similar actions, making it impossible for U.S. scientists to attend conferences in other countries.

In the end, this unhelpful and destructive executive order only hurts the United States. The IACR calls for it to be immediately rescinded.

Approved by the IACR board of directors, January 29, 2017