Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) press release.
Re: criticism of China's restrictions on encryption use.
Date: February 8, 2000.
Source: Office of Rep. Goodlatte.
Editor's Notes: Hypertext links have been added.

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Today Congressman Bob Goodlatte called on the government of the People's Republic of China to explain why its new encryption regulations are not a major invasion of privacy against computer users worldwide, including U.S. citizens. These new regulations would require companies doing business in China to list the computer products they use that contain commercial encryption software, detail who uses such software and the computers from which they use it, and turn over the telephone numbers and email addresses of anyone who uses encryption software. Further, the new rules ban the use of foreign-designed encryption software in computer products, which are essential to security and privacy in electronic commerce and communication.

"The new Chinese encryption regulations directly threaten the privacy of computer users in the United States, China, and throughout the world," stated Goodlatte. "At a time when the People's Republic of China is seeking entry into the World Trade Organization, the Chinese government should not erect new barriers to electronic commerce and online communication."

With its latest announcement, the People's Republic of China stands in direct contrast to the rest of the world, which has moved away from domestic encryption controls. During the last year, for example, efforts in the United States to impose domestic encryption controls were defeated due to public and legislative opposition. Further, the French government abandoned its previous domestic control policy, and the British government announced that they would not seek a mandatory key recovery system. China's misguided attempt to control the thoughts and actions of not only Chinese citizens, but people around the world who interact with them on the Internet, threatens the pro-democracy movement within China and the privacy of all computer users who use encryption products registered with the Chinese government.

"It's time for the Chinese government to support the privacy of its citizens instead of invading it, and to create an environment in which electronic commerce can flourish," said Goodlatte. "To that end, China should abandon its attempt to control the use of encryption and to monitor its computer users. Erecting new barriers to commerce will not help China's effort to join the WTO. The Chinese government should explain why it has taken this outrageous action against security and privacy in cyberspace."

Congressman Goodlatte is the author of H.R. 850, the Security And Freedom through Encryption (SAFE) Act, which affirms the right of all Americans to use any type of encryption they choose, prohibits the government from mandating a key escrow or key recovery encryption scheme on computer users, and relaxes export controls over U.S. encryption products. The SAFE Act has garnered 258 bipartisan cosponsors, including a majority of the Republican and Democratic leadership.