Letter from Representatives Richard Gephardt (D-MO), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) and Anna Eshoo (D-CA) to Bill Clinton.
Re: HR 850, the Security and Freedom Through Encryption (SAFE) Act.

Date: September 14, 1999.
Source: Copies received from both Rep. Zoe Lofgren and Rep. Richard Gephardt.

Congress of the United States
House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20510

September 14, 1999

The Honorable William J. Clinton
The White House
Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear Mr. President,

We are writing to you on behalf of the members of the House Democratic Caucus who support H.R. 850, the Security and Freedom Through Encryption (SAFE) Act. This is an issue of great importance to continued U.S. leadership of a vital segment of our economy, the high-tech industry. As we look toward possible House floor consideration of H.R. 850 this fall and ever growing support for passage of the bill in the 106th Congress, we believe that it is time to seek your leadership and involvement on this issue. To that end, we are requesting a meeting with you in the next week to discuss how to make progress on the encryption issue this year.

We recognize that opponents of H.R. 850, including several senior members of your Administration, have raised national security and law enforcement concerns regarding this legislation. While we respect these individuals and the expertise that they bring to this debate, we believe that their opposition fails to fully appreciate how important strong encryption is to protecting the integrity of our national information infrastructure, ensuring the privacy of our citizens personal communications over the Internet and enhancing the safety of their electronic commerce transactions.

Strong encryption actually provides vital support for both law enforcement and US national security. Thus, passage of the SAFE Act is wholly consistent with our desire to protect and support our national security and law enforcement interests in the Information Age and the coming millennium.

It is critical that our laws not unduly penalize American companies and disadvantage them in the global technology marketplace. You have recognized this as your Administration has taken important steps over the past several years that have gradually allowed for the export of stronger encryption technology. But if we hope to maintain the U.S. technological edge, we must do more. We must change our current encryption policy that needlessly places American companies behind the curve of technological advancements and international competition.

We look forward to meeting with you at your earliest possible convenience.


Richard A. Gephardt Zoe Lofgren Anna Eshoo