I recently came across this statement in the Perl documentation:

 extirpated as a potential munition

derived from the sentence:

"Creates a digest string exactly like the crypt(3) function in the C library (assuming that you actually have a version there that has not been extirpated as a potential munition)."

Is this not a very odd phrase to use in regards to a function becoming defunct or does it have some special meaning involved within cryptography?

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    There was a time when encryption algorithms were considered munitions by the US government and were subject to export restrictions; i.e. exporting crytoghraphy code was treated as if one was exporting a missile, or other weapon of war. Wikipedia tells me the situation isn't as strict as it was, but some restrictions still remain. – esoterik Mar 10 '15 at 0:44
  • @esoterik that should be an answer (although maybe the question itself could be off-topic). – SJuan76 Mar 10 '15 at 0:51
  • @esoterik Yer I had a look around the stack exchange network for a better forum: is there a place where it would be more on topic? Then again, there are etymology questions on this site, and it is related to programming... – Rambatino Mar 10 '15 at 1:03

Before the rise of personal computing, the most significant use of cryptography was to keep war plans secret. Keep in mind that programmable computing as we know it essentially began with Turing's work breaking German codes in World War II, and the age of personal computing was beginning just as the Cold War was drawing to a close--not that anyone knew it at the time!

If you had an algorithm that could encrypt data such that the government couldn't read it, and it fell into the hands of the Russians, they could use this encryption to safely coordinate first-strike plans against the West, potentially setting up a nuclear attack. This was a very real fear back in the day, and even after the Soviet Union fell, neither the nuclear weapons nor America's enemies magically went away.

Therefore, the government classified strong encryption technology as "munitions", and exporting it was regulated under the same rules as military-grade weaponry. This lasted up until the dawning of the World Wide Web and the rise of e-commerce, which required strong encryption to foil eavesdropping and fraud, and enough of the Internet made enough of a stink about it that the rules were changed, in the name of economic progress.

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    extirpate: (verb) root out and destroy completely – Kent A. Mar 10 '15 at 0:57

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