The most recent development in cryptographic alternatives is the federal government's key escrow encryption initiative, more popularly known as the Clipper Chip and the Capstone chip
. The Clipper Chip is a private key encryption algorithm contained on a chip.
Developed secretly at the NSA, the new algorithm used for the Clipper and Capstone chips will receive no such scrutiny,
The Clipper and Capstone chips also represent only one possible approach to achieving a reasonable balance between unconstrained privacy and the needs of law enforcement and national security, Silvio Micali of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has proposed an alternative scheme - developed well before the Clipper chip announcement - that eschews complicated chips and special hardware in favor of a considerably more flexible, inexpensive software solution.