Encryption News

Administration Eases Encryption Export Restraints. (7/18/00) The Clinton administration announced further relaxation of encryption export restraints on Monday, July 17. Under the new policy, U.S. producers of encryption products can export to both government and non-government end users in the European Union and several other industrial democracies without a license and without waiting for completion of a technical review.

EPIC Releases Survey of Encryption Policies Worldwide. (4/3/00) The EPIC released its third annual international study of encryption policies on April 3. It found that e-commerce and privacy protection concerns have led governments to relax regulations.

Goodlatte and Cox Condemn Chinese Encryption Policy. (2/9/00) 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.

Commerce Department Releases Encryption Export Regulations. (1/13/00) The Commerce Department released its long awaited regulations to relax encryption export restraints on Wednesday, January 12. They provide that any encryption product of any key length can be exported under a license exception after a technical review to any non-government end-user in any country except for the seven state supporters of terrorism.

Administration Delays Encryption Export Regulations. (12/14/99) The Clinton administration announced that it will delay the release of its new encryption export regulations, which it previously promised by December 15.

Lofgren Seeks Revisions to Draft Encryption Export Regulations. (12/8/99) Rep. Zoe Lofgren wrote a letter to President Clinton on December 6 in which she stated that she is distressed with the draft encryption regulations released by the administration on November 23. She wants to see many changes in the final regulations, which the administration has promised by December 15. See, Lofgren Letter to Clinton.

Representatives Caution Clinton About Encryption Export Regulations. (11/12/99) The bipartisan cosponsors of HR 850, the SAFE Act, and House Republican leaders wrote letters to President Clinton this week warning him that the administration's encryption export regulations to be announced on December 15 should live up to the administration's policy announcements of September 16.

Rep. Lofgren Calls for SAFE Act to be Held in Abeyance. (10/6/99) Rep. Zoe Lofgren said at a forum on the administration's encryption policy proposal that the SAFE Act should be held "in abeyance." Rep. Tom Davis stated that it is still scheduled for the House floor later this month. William Reinsch of the Commerce Department restated the administration's opposition to the SAFE Act.

Administration Addresses Encryption Reform Proposal. (9/29/99) Four representatives of the Clinton administration discussed the September 16 proposals to liberalize encryption export restraints, and other matters, at a luncheon forum in Washington DC hosted by the Internet Caucus. Administration representatives promised to consult with industry regarding new regulations, to be drafted by December 15. Meanwhile, Rep. Goodlatte said that the SAFE Act is "alive and well." See, transcript.

Rep. Weldon Criticizes Administration Encryption Reversal. (9/29/99) Rep. Curt Weldon harshly criticized the administration's "about face in policy" on encryption at a luncheon forum on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, September 28. Rep. Weldon is a strong supporter of the administration's previous policy.

Clinton Administration Talks Encryption. (9/17/99) With the House of Representatives close to a vote on the Security and Freedom through Encryption (SAFE) Act, the Clinton administration announced a new set of encryption policy proposals, including liberalization of export restraints.

Reaction to Clinton Encryption Proposals. (9/17/99) The Clinton administration's encryption policy proposals of September 16 won guarded praise from many encryption rights proponents, including Rep. Bob Goodlatte and Rep. Zoe Lofgren, the sponsor and lead co-sponsor of the SAFE Act, and Sen. John McCain and Sen. Conrad Burns, sponsor and cosponsor of the PROTECT Act.

Gephardt, Lofgren and Eshoo Write Clinton on Encryption Bill. (9/14/99) Representatives Richard Gephardt, Zoe Lofgren and Anna Eshoo wrote a letter to President Bill Clinton today urging him to support HR 850, the SAFE Act. See, letter.

Tony Blair Promises No Government Mandated Key Escrow. (9/13/99) British Prime Minister Tony Blair gave a speech on the information economy and Internet policy on Monday, September 13, 1999. He encouraged the British to embrace the Internet, advocated industry self-regulation, outlined government efforts to promote computer literacy, and promised that the government would not mandate key escrow. See, Blair speech.

DOJ Files Petition for Rehearing in Bernstein Case. (6/23/99) The U.S. Department of Justice filed a petition on Monday, June 21, with the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals requesting an en banc rehearing of the Court's May 6 decision holding that  encryption export restraints constitute a prior restraint of free speech. See, copy of Petition for Rehearing.

Rush Limbaugh Criticizes DOJ on Encryption Exports. (6/23/99) Conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh criticized the Clinton administration decision to seek an en banc rehearing in the Bernstein encryption case on his daily show on Tuesday, June 22. He said that it was inconsistent with the administration's transfer of satellite technology to China. Moreover, he called the administration's encryption policy "a day late and a dollar short."

House Telecom Subcommittee Approves SAFE Act. (6/17/99) The House Telecommunications Subcommittee approved the SAFE Act by a voice vote on Wednesday morning, June 16, with amendments. The version adopted extends the export review period from 15 to 30 days, expands the grounds for denying export authorization, creates an encryption laboratory, and transfers certain responsibilities from the Secretary of Commerce to the NTIA. However, the Subcommittee rejected a backdoor attempt to require key escrow. See, copy of bill passed by the Telecom Subcommittee.

Senate Committee Holds Hearing on PROTECT Act. (6/11/99) The Senate Commerce Committee held a hearing on Thursday morning, June 10, on Sen. McCain's encryption bill, the PROTECT Act. Sen. John McCain introduced his bill on April 14. Since then, it has been opposed by administration officials, and described as not going far enough by encryption proponents, who tend to favor HR 850, the SAFE Act.

House Intelligence Committee Questions Need for SAFE Act. (6/10/99) The House Select Committee on Intelligence held a hearing on the SAFE Act on June 9. The Chairman of the Committee, Rep. Porter Goss, and other members, are opposed to the encryption bill.

Group Releases International Survey of Encryption Policies. (6/10/99) The Electronic Privacy Information Center, a Washington DC based interest group which primarily advocates for civil liberties and privacy rights in electronic media, released its second annual survey and report on encryption policies around the world. The report concludes that most nations have no encryption controls, and that the trend is towards relaxation of regulations.

Goodlatte Promotes SAFE Act at Network Associates Event. (6/2/99) Rep. Bob Goodlatte promoted the SAFE Act, and encouraged others to ask their Members of Congress to support the bill, in an address to a Network Associates conference held near Washington DC on Wednesday, June 2.

House Telecom Subcommittee Holds Hearing on SAFE Act. (5/26/99) The House Telecommunications Subcommittee held a hearing on May 25 on HR 850, the SAFE Act. The Clinton-Gore administration sent representatives to testify against the bill. The software and e-commerce industry sent representatives to testify in favor of the bill.

House Subcommittee Criticizes Administration Opposition to SAFE Act. (5/18/99) The House International Economic Policy and Trade Subcommittee held a hearing on the SAFE Act on Tuesday afternoon, May 18. Administration officials who testified in opposition to the bill were met with tough questions, blunt criticism, and ridicule.

Ninth Circuit Rules Encryption Export Regulations Violate First Amendment. (5/10/99) The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issued its opinion in the case Bernstein v. Department of Justice holding that U.S. encryption export regulations violate First Amendment free speech rights. See, 9th Circuit Opinion.

Sen. McCain Introduces Encryption Bill. (4/15/99) Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) introduced the "Promote Reliable On Line Transactions to Encourage Commerce and Trade (PROTECT) Act" on Wednesday, April 14. The bill would allow exportation of encryption of key lengths up to 64 bits, and allow for exportation of encryption above 64 bits to responsible entities and governments of NATO, ASEAN, and the OECD. See, copy of the PROTECT Act.

Rep. Markey Proposes Federal Regulation to Protect Online Privacy. (4/7/99) Rep. Edward Markey proposed new federal legislation of electronic commerce companies for the purpose of protecting the privacy of consumers. He also endorsed legislation to protect encryption rights of Americans. He was a keynote speaker at the Computer, Freedom & Privacy 1999 convention in Washington DC. See, copy of Rep.Markey's address, as delivered.

Sen. McCain to Introduce an Encryption Bill. (4/1/99) Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) announced in a press release dated March 31, 1999 that he would introduce a bill in the Senate pertaining to encryption when the Senate returns from the spring recess. The release states that the bill would "allow for exportation of encryption of key lengths of up to 64 bits."

House Judiciary Committee Approves SAFE Act. (3/25/99) The House Judiciary Committee approved the SAFE Act by a unanimous voice vote on Wednesday, March 24. The encryption bill also has to be approved by the House International Relations Committee.

Encryption Bill Reintroduced in House. (2/25/99) Rep. Bob Goodlatte, Rep. Zoe Lofgren, and over 200 other members of the House of Representatives are re-introducing the Security and Freedom through Encryption (SAFE) Act. The bill would ensure that Americans can use any type of encryption, prohibit the government from mandating a backdoor into people's computer systems, and relax current export controls on encryption products.

Goodlatte and Boucher Criticize British Key Escrow Proposals. (2/18/99) Rep. Bob Goodlatte and Rep. Rick Boucher expressed concern over key encryption proposals in the United Kingdom on Tuesday, February 16. The two are part of a Congressional delegation in Europe to discuss electronic commerce issues. The House of Representatives is in recess this week.

BSA Announces Agenda for 106th Congress. (2/8/99)  The Business Software Alliance held a press conference in Washington DC on Thursday, February 4, to announce its policy agenda for the 106th Congress.  Its leading issues are copyright protection and encryption rights. Other priorities include Y2K litigation reform, patent reform, digital signatures and authentication, extension of the R&D tax credit, privacy, and generally, freedom from government regulation.

Daley and Pitofsky Hold Joint Press Conference on E-Commerce and Privacy. (2/6/99) Secretary of Commerce William Daley and FTC Chairman Robert Pitofsky held a press conference on Friday, February 5, to announce that the Department of Commerce will start keeping annual statistics on commercial sales on the Internet. Currently, Internet sales are included in the catalogue sales category. Both men also reiterated that industry should take the lead on privacy issues, through self-regulation. Both were silent on encryption.

International Arms Control Statement Restricts Encryption. (12/4/98)  Thirty-three nations, including the United States, signed a statement regarding arms exports on Thursday, December 3, in Wassenaar, Austria.  At the insistence of the U.S, the "Wassenaar Arrangement" also calls for limits on export of encryption products.  Pro-encryption groups promptly criticized the statement and the Clinton-Gore administration.

Administration Policy for Boosting E-Commerce Includes Crypto Restraints. (11/30/98)  Bill Clinton and Al Gore jointly announced the administration's first annual report on electronic commerce at a ceremony held in the Old Executive Office Building in Washington DC on Monday, November 30.  The report, which describes the administration's agenda for promoting e-commerce, contains little new information.  It does, however, include the incompatible directive of maintaining existing restraints on encryption.

Bob Goodlatte Named Co-Chair of Internet Caucus. (11/20/98)  Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) has been named House Republican Co-Chair of the Internet Caucus.  He is the lead sponsor and advocate of the Safety and Freedom through Encryption Act (SAFE), HR 695.

Industry Group Plans Ad Campaign on Encryption.   (7/23/98)  Americans for Computer Privacy, an industry based pro encryption group, announced at a Washington press conference on Wednesday the details of a multimedia advertising campaign focused on building public support for legislation protecting use and export of strong encryption products.  The grass roots effort to influence Congress will include 30-second television spots, one-page print ads and an online component.

EFF Cracks 56-Bit DES in Three Days.   (7/20/98)  The non-profit civil rights group, EFF, announced Friday that it built a computer with off the shelf parts for under $250,000 which cracked a message encoded in 56-bit DES.  The EFF DES Cracker took only two days and eight hours to decode the message in a brute force search of 88 billion keys per second.  In so doing, it disproved claims by the federal government that 56-bit encryption is secure.

Junger Plans to Appeal Encryption Ruling.   (7/9/98)  Peter Junger, the Ohio law professor who lost his court battle over encryption software last week, announced Wednesday that he plans to appeal.   Junger had sued to enjoin the enforcement of government export regulations that prevented him from publishing encryption programs.  Junger asserted that his programs were protected free speech.  However, Judge Gwin ruled that his programs were functional, not expressive, and thus not entitled much First Amendment protection.   See, Complete HTML Copy of Judge Gwin's Decision.

Encryption Export Controls Upheld By One Judge.   (7/7/98)  Encryption proponents lost a legal battle last Friday when U.S. District Court Judge Gwin ruled in the case Junger v. Daley that current encryption export controls are not unconstitutional.  Last year another federal trial court judge held such rules are unconstitutional.

Burns Says Encryption Bill May Be Considered by Senate.   (6/17/98)  Senator Conrad Burns (R-MT) announced Tuesday that legislation to "loosen restrictions on encrypted software" may come before the full Senate this year.  Encryption legislation has stalled under opposition from FBI Director Louis Freeh.

Computer CEOs Meet With Justice Officials.   (6/10/98)  Industry leaders and federal law enforcement officials who are at odds over encryption policy met privately in Sen. Diane Feinstein's Washington DC office on Tuesday.  No significant progress or compromise was announced.

Industry Leaders to Meet with Freeh on Encryption.   (6/2/98)  Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Louis Freeh is scheduled to meet with industry leaders to discuss encryption on June 9.   Computer, Internet and telecommunications industry leaders favor strong encryption legislation which would guarantee Americans the right to use encryption products, and allow American companies to export encryption products.  Current law permits Americans to use encryption products, but limits exportation.

Gore 'Electronic Bill of Rights' Speech Omits Encryption(5/15/98)  Vice President Al Gore used a commencement address at NYU on Thursday to announce a new administrative digital privacy policy initiative, which he called the "electronic bill of rights for this electronic age."  However, neither Gore's address, nor a memorandum from President Clinton to department heads, contained any support for the right to encrypt data or communications.  See, HTML Copy of Gore Speech.

Compromise Encryption Bill Introduced in Senate(5/14/98)  Senators Leahy, Ashcroft, and Burns have introduced a "compromise" encryption bill, dubbed the "E-PRIVACY Act," which contains many of the same provisions as the "Pro CODE Act," but also some concessions to those who favor more law enforcement authority.  The main opponent of pro-encryption legislation, the FBI, has not publicly commented on the bill.  See, HTML Copy of E-PRIVACY Bill.

Freeh Warns of Encryption Use in International Crime.  (4/23/98)  FBI Director Louis Freeh warned a Senate Appropriation Subcommittee on Tuesday that the use of encryption by international terrorists and drug dealers is frustrating FBI law enforcement efforts.

Daley Calls Crypto Policy Implementation a Failure.  (4/16/98)  Secretary of Commerce William Daley, Jr., told a gathering at the Willard Hotel in Washington DC on Wednesday that implementation of encryption policy in the U.S. "has been a failure," and that "the global market is rendering our policy obsolete. And I fear that will soon make our products obsolete as well."  The speech was a criticism of FBI Director Louis Freeh's anti-encryption campaign.

Democrats Write to Clinton on Encryption Policy(4/6/98)  Twelve House Democrats wrote to President Clinton asking him to reconsider the Administration's support for restraints on export of encryption products.  The twelve mostly come from districts which contain computer industry companies.  However, several House leaders, including Democratic Leader Dick Gephardt, and Democratic Caucus Chairman Vic Fazio, also signed the letter.

Senate Committee Holds Hearing on Encryption.  (3/17/98)  A Senate Committee heard criticism of FBI key escrow demands from industry leaders, legal scholars, and law enforcement today.  It also heard from a minor Justice Department official who offered some hope that the Administration might be backing down slightly from its hard line against encryption.

ACP Brings Together Strange Bedfellows.  (3/16/98)  The newly formed coalition in support of strong encryption law, Americans for Computer Privacy, brings together a vast array of people, groups, and businesses from all over the American political landscape.

Americans for Computer Privacy Organizes.  (3/4/98)  Americans for Computer Privacy, a large, diverse, and new group which was organized to obtain passage of strong encryption legislation, held a public meeting on Capitol Hill today in the huge and ornate House Caucus Room of Cannon Office Building.