Quantum Computing Laws – Part I

Quantum computers will be more prevalent in the coming years as technology advances and they become more affordable. Quantum computers function differently than traditional computers. They are faster and much more efficient when compared to traditional computers. Today’s traditional computers use digital bits which represent zeros and ones – i.e., they must be either on or off for computing process. However, quantum computers operate by using qubits which can store digital information and have several properties. In essence, they can make instantaneous calculations that can take a traditional computer several years. Quantum computers can resolve industrial problems that can take traditional computers a longer time.

What are the applicable technologies and legal problems?

The advantage of having access to quantum computers can be significant. This is because, for example, a company that has access to these exponentially-advanced electronic devices can decrypt a sophisticated program within minutes and threaten the victim’s privacy rights. In other words, it could carry a potential invasive power that would be unmatched by traditional computers. Encryption technology is being used to protect sensitive information. There is “symmetric” and “asymmetric” encryption technology that is being used in the market.

Symmetric encryption uses one cryptographic key to encrypt and decrypt electronic information. It’s a relatively simple process because it uses a single key for encryption and decryption. Symmetric encryption is faster than asymmetric encryption and does not require as much computational power.  Advanced Encryption Standard (“AES”) uses symmetric encryption and comes in various levels of encryption (e.g., 256, 512, 1024, 2048-bits). There is also RC4, RC5, RC6, DES, and 3DES symmetric encryption on the market at this point.

However, by contrast, asymmetric encryption is known as “public key cryptography” and uses several keys for encrypting and decrypting electronic information. This type of encryption technology uses a public and private key. It is secure because only one person has access to the private key and third parties can use the public key to encrypt the electronic information. It can help prevent the so-called “man-in-the-middle” attacks. A common type of asymmetric encryption algorithm is RSA which uses a “prime factorization” method. It’s used for SSL certificates, digital currencies, and electronic message encryptions. Another type of asymmetric encryption algorithm is ECC which stands for Elliptic Curve Cryptography.

Now, on the flipside, quantum computers can help legal and non-legal experts expand their business operations since they can be used for data analytics. These sophisticated electronic devices should be able to produce legal advice automatically in the future. For example, legal professionals – such as judges and attorneys – can use quantum computers for predictive analysis. They can evaluate the potential outcome of a case based on the relevant facts and laws. The concept of stare decisis (a rule or principle that was established by a prior legal case) can be effectively used to analyze the legal action. Therefore, predictive analytics can have a strong effect in the legal industry. In addition, quantum computer users can share information in a more efficient manner especially when distant collaboration is necessary.

The National Quantum Initiative Act (Public Law 115-368) was enacted to permit the government to implement a plan for advancing quantum technology. This statute provides for a coordinated federal program to accelerate quantum research and development among various agencies such as the National Institute of Standards and Technology (“NIST”), National Science Foundation (“NSF”), and Department of Energy (“DOE”). In addition, the Quantum Computing Research Act of 2018 was introduced by Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) to require the Defense Secretary to establish the Defense Quantum Information Consortium. There is a high probability that other state, federal, and international laws will be introduced and passed by legislators in the near future.

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