Encryption Issues


On 16 September 1999, the White House announced a change of policy with regard to the overseas sale of encryption technology by U.S. companies. Click for the following items:

1. White House, Office of the Press Secretary, Fact Sheet: Administration Updates Encryption Export Policy, 16 September 1999;

2. White House, Office of the Press Secretary, Press Briefing by Deputy National Security Advisor Jim Steinberg, Attorney General Janet Reno, Deputy Secretary of Defense John Hamre, Under Secretary of Commerce Bill Reinsch, and Chief Counselor for Privacy at OMB Peter Swire, 16 September 1999;

3. William Cohen, Janet Reno, Jacob J. Lew, and William Daley, Preserving America's Privacy and Security in the Next Century: A Strategy for America in Cyberspace. A Report to the President of the United States, 16 September 1999.

Materials presented in chronological order.

Baker, Stewart A., and Paul R. Hurst. The Limits of Trust: Cryptography, Governments, and Electronic Commerce. Cambridge, MA: Kluwer Law International, 1998.

Kruh, Cryptologia 23.3, finds that this work will "provide an invaluable reference book for lawyers, business people, technologists, and others interested in being up-to-date on the crypto policy debate, international initiatives, and encryption regulations around the world."

Ackerman, Wystan M. "Encryption: A 21st Century National Security Dilemma." International Review of Law, Computers & Technology 12, no. 2 (Jul. 1998): 371-394. [Marlatt]

Electronic Privacy Information Center. Cryptography and Liberty 1999: An International Survey of Encryption Policy. Washington, DC: 1999.

From the "Executive Summary": The U.S. government "continues to lead efforts for encryption controls around the world." It has exerted economic and diplomatic pressure on other countries in an attempt to force them into adopting restrictive policies. The U.S. position may be explained, in part, by the dominant role that national intelligence and federal law enforcement agencies hold in the development of encryption policy."

Walker, Stephen T., and Joan D. Winston. "Cryptography Policy Update." Cryptologia 23, no. 2 (Apr. 1999): 157-163.

This article focuses on "implementation of the U.S. encryption policy changes announced by Vice President Gore in September 1998, and on related U.S. policy initiatives concerning encryption export and cryptography standards."

Wayner, Peter. "Court Calls Encryption Rules Unconstitutional." New York Times, 7 May 1999. []

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco ruled on 6 May 1999 that the U.S government's "restrictions on the export of encryption software are an unconstitutional prior restraint of free speech.... The decision is not expected to have much immediate effect because ... past decisions have been stayed while the appeals are heard." See also Thomas E. Crocker, "Ninth Circuit Panel Rules on Encryption Export Controls in Bernstein v. U.S. DOJ et al.," National Security Law Report, Sep. 1999, 7-9.

Bridis, Ted. "White House Bows to Pressure from High-Tech Industry Over Encryption." Associated Press, 16 Sep. 1999.

On 16 September 1999, the White House agreed "to allow U.S. companies to sell the most powerful data-scrambling technology overseas with virtually no restrictions, a concession to America's high-tech industry over law enforcement and national security objections." See also, Peter S. Goodman and John Schwartz, "Curbs on Export of Secrecy Codes Ending," Washington Post, 17 Sep. 1999, A1; and Declan McCullagh, "Decoding the Crypto Policy Change," Wired News, 17 Sep. 1999.

Clausing, Jeri. "New Fight over Encryption Rules." New York Times, 21 Sep. 1999. [http://]

The Clinton administration's surprise change in "encryption policy may finally close the long-standing debate over export controls. But civil libertarians are bracing for a renewed fight with law enforcement agencies over access to the keys that can unscramble private data and communications."

Schwartz, John. "Controls on Export of Encryption Software to be Eased." Washington Post, 17 Jul. 2000. []

In a speech at the National Press Club on 16 July 2000, White House Chief of Staff John Podesta announced that the Clinton administration "will loosen controls on the export of encryption software.... American companies will be able to export the strongest cryptography products to users in any nation in the European Union and to Australia, Norway, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Japan. New Zealand and Switzerland."

Levy, Steven. Crypto: How the Code Rebels Beat the Government -- Saving Privacy in the Digital Age. New York Viking, 2001.

Powers, NYRB, 21 Jun. 2001, and Intelligence Wars (2004), 243-255, finds that this work recounts "in lively detail" NSA's "clandestine campaign" against public encryption. "How these [public key] systems actually work is complicated but not dauntingly so," and Powers "urge[s] interested readers to consult Levy's book."

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