"We [science fiction writers] always wanted to believe in "private sector" space -- hucksters make better characters than a government does."
There are several mentions of message cylinders in the Dune novels. The idea is that these metal cylinders are locked; the message tape itself typically corrodes quickly and becomes unreadable when exposed to air.
This does not seem to be one of the more highly developed technologies - many times, they are described has having been captured and read by the enemy.
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