[ISN] France tell NSA to shove it

From: mea culpa (jerichoat_private)
Date: Sat Feb 20 1999 - 01:45:58 PST

  • Next message: mea culpa: "[ISN] Netscape faces another security hole"

    Forwarded From: "Dr. Vann Harl" <vannat_private>
    By far the most significant intelligence and security news of the
    fortnight is French Prime Minister Lionel Jospin's 19 January announcement
    that France is suddenly reversing its long-term and traditionally
    restrictive policy toward the public use of encryption systems and
    allowing complete freedom of use of systems with key lengths up to and
    including 128 bits.  Currently, only 40 bit keys are legal and they must
    be deposited with a trusted third party ... of which there is only one
    recognized in all of France.  Under today's French law, the government has
    a right to understand any type of communication using public facilities,
    meaning post, telecommunications, semaphores, or what have you, although
    this law is seldom invoked publicly. 
    The implication of this French decision goes far beyond France itself and
    is the first splash of a tidal change that will, in all likelihood, drown
    the international public encryption policy the US is trying to impose on
    the world in the name of fighting crime, drugs and terrorism.  France,
    which has probably suffered more deaths in the past few years from foreign
    terrorists than any other developed nation, "heard the players, questioned
    the experts and consulted its international partners" and explicitly
    decided that American high-tech eavesdropping and economic espionage is
    more detrimental to French interests than terrorists using encrypted
    communications.  The American menace is easily discernable in the opening
    lines of Mr. Jospin's statement concerning this tidal change in encryption
    policy:  "With the development of electronic espionage instruments,
    cryptography appears as an essential instrument of privacy protection." 
    No mention of crime, drugs or terrorists. 
    Since the EU has already imposed much stronger privacy protection laws
    than the US, has debated the threat posed by the NSA Echelon worldwide
    telecommunications surveillance system, and has resisted "falling in line
    behind the FBI" on public eavesdropping, experts expect all EU countries
    to announce similar public encryption liberalization in the near future. 
    Indeed, this seems to be the developing EU strategy of letting the
    "uppity, snobbish Gallic French stand up to the Americans", something the
    French have always done with pride.  Then, "once the rampart is breached",
    suddenly the other EU countries follow suit in a movement that could only
    have been negotiated and organized beforehand.  Specialists know it's
    coming on drug policies, but very few anticipated that a French Socialist
    government would stand up so unexpectedly to French security and
    intelligence services (which imposed the 40 bit key limit, a record lower
    limit in Western countries) and to the US.  Now it's done, the floodgates
    are open and watch what's going to happen ...  (...cut...) 
    Subscribe: mail majordomoat_private with "subscribe isn".
    Today's ISN Sponsor: Internet Security Institute [www.isi-sec.com]

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Fri Apr 13 2001 - 13:19:36 PDT