[ISN] President's crypto-committee meets in secret

From: mea culpa (jerichoat_private)
Date: Thu Jun 25 1998 - 01:41:25 PDT

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    Forwarded From: "Jay D. Dyson" <jdysonat_private>
    Courtesy of Cryptography List. 
    Posted by Declan McCullagh <declanat_private>
    TIME.com / The Netly News
    Feds Still Fretting Over Encryption
    June 23, 1998
    By Declan McCullagh
    Let's say, just for argument's sake, that you're a top bureaucrat whose
    job is to convince American businesses that those wickedly unpopular
    encryption regulations are OK after all. You could do worse than follow
    Commerce Department Undersecretary Bill Reinsch's lead:  Set up an
    advisory committee, hand-pick its members, kick the public out of the room
    for a classified briefing from the NSA, and hope for the best. 
    That's what happened on Monday during the third meeting of the President's
    Export Council Subcommittee on Encryption. It's still too early to tell
    how crypto-conciliatory the members will be with the feds, but the lineup
    of speakers at each meeting isn't helping. No privacy groups or
    cryptographers have been invited. 
    When Barbara Simons of the Association for Computing Machinery observed
    yesterday that the only folks invited to brief the committee during the
    previous two meetings were feds, only two other people (including
    Netscape's Peter Harter)  said they thought it was a problem. 
    Raising no complaints were representatives from the House and Senate
    Intelligence committees, who showed up yesterday to argue for strict
    crypto restrictions. "We cannot subject national security and public
    safety to the whims of the marketplace," said Patrick Murray, chief
    counsel to House Intelligence.  "Without access to plaintext, that
    information will remain unavailable to law enforcement. Investigations
    will cease. Criminals will remain on the street." Pedophiles, he
    complained, could hide their "child pornography"  with impunity. 
    Murray's committee last September voted to make it a crime to sell,
    manufacture, distribute or import encryption products without backdoors
    for government surveillance. Other House committees have voted for bills
    that would relax export controls. "Unless there is a clear compromise," no
    bill will go to the House floor for a vote this year, Murray said. Also
    speaking to the committee were representatives from the Senate Judiciary
    Committee and Rep. Zoe Lofgren's (D-Calif.) office. 
    Then the committee entered closed session. But it's not like the feds had
    anything especially secret to say.  America's national security was not at
    stake. No covert operations were endangered. Then why did Commerce's
    Reinsch recommend a closed session? Well, he said, "while not classified,
    it's information you don't want to see in the newspapers." 
    That information, according to committee members who were there, was a
    discussion of how many export licenses have been granted and rejected, and
    an admission that there were some "interagency disagreements" between the
    FBI, NSA and the Commerce Department.  The three senior Commerce officials
    briefing the subcommittee: Roger Majak, James Lewis and Patricia Sefcik.
    Eleanor Padgett from NSA Information Systems Security spoke in the
    The subcommittee also voted to send a letter to President Clinton urging
    him to allow overseas shipments of weak 56-bit encryption and the export
    of stronger products to financial institutions. "Continued delay has
    dulled the initial positive response the administration received when it
    first announced its intentions" to be nice to banks, says the letter,
    written by former NSA general counsel and Steptoe & Johnson partner
    Stewart Baker. Next on the agenda: a briefing from crypto-ambassador David
    Aaron at the subcommittee's next meeting. 
       (    (                                                        ______
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     C|~~|C|~~| [> Jay D. Dyson - jdysonat_private <] | =   |-'
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