Goodlatte and Cox Condemn Chinese Encryption Policy
(February 9, 2000) Rep. Goodlatte and Rep. Cox both issued statements strongly criticizing the government of mainland China for banning U.S. made encryption products, and restricting the privacy rights its citizens.
|Rep. Goodlatte release, 2/8/00.|
|Rep. Cox release, 1/26/00.|
|SAFE Act, HR 850.|
Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) issued a statement criticizing the Chinese government on February 8, 2000. Rep. Chris Cox (R-CA) issued his statement on January 26, 2000, shortly after the Chinese government announced its encryption restraint policy.
"Censoring the Internet, invading the privacy of individuals through government spying, and stifling e-commerce are barbaric throwbacks to the days of Mao," said Rep. Cox. "This is precisely contrary to the approach the PRC must follow if it becomes a member of the World Trade Organization."
"The new Chinese encryption regulations directly threaten the privacy of computer users in the United States, China, and throughout the world," said Rep. 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."
However, while both Rep. Cox nor Rep. Goodlatte raised the subject of China's entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO), neither expressed opposition to permanent normal trade relations (PNTR) status for China, or China's accession into the WTO.
The Congress has yet to approve PNTR status for China.
China's new encryption regulations ban the use of foreign-designed encryption software. They also 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.
Rep. Goodlatte is the lead sponsor of the Security and Freedom through Encryption (SAFE) Act, HR 850 IH. This bill would liberalize encryption exports restraints, ban government mandated key escrow, and guarantee Americans the right to use any encryption products. The bill had completed the committee review process, and was ready to be taken up by the full House last fall when the Clinton administration agreed to significantly revise its encryption export restraint policies.
Rep. Goodlatte is holding the SAFE Act in abeyance while he monitors the Clinton administration's progress in putting into effect its new encryption policies.
"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 Rep. 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."
Rep. Cox conveyed a similar message. "Just as the Clinton administration has joined Congressional leaders in agreeing to export U.S. encryption software to non-government users without obtaining a license, the PRC has moved to prohibit the use of such software by Chinese citizens and even foreign companies operating there. Our policy toward China is to seek freedom for its people. That hope is diminished today as the Communist government has erected a substantial new barrier to freedom of thought, freedom of speech, and free markets in China."
Rep. Cox continued, "the Ministry of State Security reportedly is now deciding how it will 'punish those who violate the rules.' This is consistent with the PRC's grotesque pattern of using criminal punishment to prevent freedom of thought and expression. Lin Hai, a 30-year-old software executive and Web page designer, recently was sentenced to prison for supposedly 'inciting subversion of state power.' His so-called 'crime' was exchanging e-mail addresses with an anti-communist group in America. If Lin Hai had been able to keep the contents of his computer messages away from the prying eyes of the Ministry of State Security-using encryption from commercially available U.S. software-he would be a free man today. That is the cynical reason for today's crackdown on freedom by the PRC."
Clinton administration officials, including Sandy Berger, William Daley, and Charlene Barshefsky, have been giving frequent speeches in support of China's entry into the WTO and permanent normal trade relations status for China.
National Security Advisor Sandy Berger gave a address on February 2 on China, the WTO and PNTR status, in which he stated:
"We have worked for the emergence of a China that contributes to peace in Asia. A China with an economy that is open to American products, farmers, and businesses. A China whose people have access to ideas and information ..."