I'm a staunch supporter of sharing information. In fact, I believe that patents should have a quicker expiration date (especially in fields where innovation moves very rapidly). Consider this: a patent filed in 1993 for a particular style of trackball mouse would still be in effect until next year. However, the vast majority of us do not utilize such hardware anymore.
What does this have to do with the NSA restricting the strength of encryption available to businesses? Without equal access to innovations and information, there is a lag between discovery and improvements. If everyone has equal access to information, there is a greater chance that breakthrough ideas will emerge. This simple principle is demonstrated by Singh's description of the development of our modern encryption techniques. Because information was shared among different groups, a team tackled one security problem (key distribution) while another group on the other side of the United States worked on another issue (one-way encryption functions).
Beyond this fact, there is the consideration that the NSA was effectively lying to the public about security. The NSA wanted to promote DES as a universal standard of secure communication. However, they made provisions to keep it from being as secure as it could be. In effect, the NSA was convincing businesses that DES offered adequate protection of corporate secrets. This sort of repression of information brings to mind "Big Brother" and "doublethink" in a realization of George Orwell's intrusive government.
I can see no rationale adequate enough to justify the NSA's paranoia. Their attempt to keep the public's secrets under their thumb was a bad idea.
Photo: Broken Rusty Lock by Nick Carter