[ISN] Crypto Bill Back from Grave

From: mea culpa (jerichoat_private)
Date: Thu Feb 25 1999 - 23:48:23 PST

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    # http://www.wired.com/news/print_version/politics/story/18132.html?wnpg=all
    Crypto Bill Back from Grave
    by James Glave 
    12:10 p.m.  25.Feb.99.PST
    Legislation that would relax export restrictions on data-scrambling
    technologies and seek to guarantee citizens the right to use strong
    encryption wasreintroduced to Congress Thursday.
    Representatives Bob Goodlatte (R-Virginia) and Zoe Lofgren (D-California) 
    resurrected their Security and Freedom Through Encryption Act, or SAFE,
    with the bipartisan support of 205 House members.
    "My bill will give law-abiding citizens access to a major way to prevent
    credit-card fraud, and prevent a hacker or a terrorist from doing
    something to anuclear plant or the New York Stock Exchange," said
    Goodlatte.  "The risks to our society of not using strong crypto are very
    It's the third time around for H.R. 695, which was shot down previously by
    aggressive backstage lobbying from law enforcement agencies, including the
    "Technology is leaving [FBI director Louis Freeh] behind," said Goodlatte. 
    "He either has to change his approach or the FBI is going to be in a
    difficult situation. Whether this bill passes or not, people who are going
    to break the law are going to get a hold of strong encryption."
    The FBI and other law-enforcement agencies want the current crypto
    controls -- which limit the strength of crypto to a crackable 56 bits --
    to remain the standard. They fear the software will hamper their ability
    to eavesdrop on terrorists and terrorist states.
    But that's short sighted, said Lofgren, who represents many Silicon Valley
    software companies that want the shackles lifted.
    "We thought in the Valley about taking up a collection so that we could
    send someone to the FBI to educate them," said Lofgren. "They need to
    understand the digital world -- if you can download it from the Internet
    today, it is too late."
    In Senate testimony earlier this month, Freeh stuck to his guns. 
    "Law enforcement remains in unanimous agreement that the continued
    widespread availability and increasing use of strong, non-recoverable
    encryption products will ... devastate our capabilities for fighting
    crime, preventing acts of terrorism, and protecting the national
    security," he told senators.
    The bill may have a better chance than its predecessors. One of the bill's
    biggest critics in the past, New York Republican Gerald Solomon, has
    retired.  His replacement as chairman of the House Rules Committee, David
    Dreier (R-California), co-signed the latest draft. 
    The bill is supported by the Americans for Computer Privacy, a computer
    industry lobbying group, which says the export rules create an unfair
    playing field vis-a-vis overseas competitors.
    Though industry was clearly on board with SAFE, the Electronic Frontier
    Foundation, a privacy watchdog group, was unhappy about the bill.
    "Goodlatte and gang didn't do this in a way that would benefit the
    individual and left it in a way that would create some serious privacy
    concerns," said EFF attorney Shari Steele. 
    Steele said that SAFE is geared toward mass-market software, but does not
    protect individuals who write their own encryption software. She also said
    that the bill does not allow for judicial reviews. 
    Finally, she said that the bill creates a new crime -- that of using
    crypto to commit a crime -- a stipulation she interprets as the authors
    throwing a bone to law enforcement.
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