Administration Delays Encryption Export Regulations

(December 14, 1999) The Clinton administration announced that it will delay the release of its new encryption export regulations, which it previously promised by December 15.

The administration announced on September 16, 1999 that it would make sweeping changes in its encryption export policy, and would formalize those changes in new regulations, to be released by December 15, 1999.

A White House press release, dated September 16, stated: "The Administration intends to codify this new policy in export regulations by December 15, 1999."

See, Tech Law Journal Summary of Encryption Bills in the 106th Congress.

This promise was instrumental in stopping the House of Representatives from proceeding to a vote on the Security and Freedom through Encryption (SAFE) Act.

William Reinsch, the Under Secretary of Commerce for the Bureau of Export Administration, repeated this promise several times afterwards. For example, at an Internet Caucus event on Capitol Hill on September 28, Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), sponsor of the SAFE Act, asked Reinsch, "...will the export regulations be changed or delayed from your December 15 deadline, if the Congress has not passed the Cyberspace Electronic Security Act by that date?"

Reinsch responded: "December 15 is a no later than date. We hope that it will be earlier. ... I don't see circumstances that would have us going beyond that date, including the non-enactment of CESA. And, that is a firm no later than date as far as I am concerned. And the announcement that we made is very clear that there are no contingencies or conditions attached to it."  See, transcript.

Statement by William Reinsch
December 13, 1999
The Administration decided today to delay the release of its pending regulation on encryption exports no later than January 14, 2000 to permit further consultation with affected parties. The consultations we have had with various companies, industry groups and privacy organizations have been very valuable in helping determine how to match the pending regulations to industry practices in a manner consistent with our September 16 announcement.

Given the significant changes since the November 19 draft, we believe there would be real benefit to another round of review and consultations before we issue the regulation. In responding to specific business cases brought to us by industry, especially in the area of source code and encryption development toolkits, we have gone further in the regulation than we promised in September, and that is another reason for this review.

We expect to circulate another draft for comment shortly.


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