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NSA, ITAR, NCSA and plug-in hooks.
I just found this tidbit while following Sameer's Apache WWW server link.
For those who were wondering if plug-in crypto hooks were still watched
out for. One wonders how the ietf folks are managing to promote internet-wide
standards that are considered unexportable (Are they? What's the deal on
photuris, PEM, ipsec and the rest of them?)
Ps. I may be totally wrong, but I remember seeing something posted last
month about some ZKIPS scheme in relation with Netscape (zero knowledge
proofs with web servers, huh? Confused).
WHY WE TOOK PEM OUT OF APACHE
On May 17th, 1995, we were asked by a representative of NCSA to remove
any copies of NCSA httpd prior to 1.4.1 from our web site. They were
mandated by the NSA to inform us that redistribution of pre-1.4.1 code
violated the same laws that make distributing Phill Zimmerman's PGP
package to other countries illegal. There was no encryption in NCSA's
httpd, only hooks to publicly available libraries of PEM code. By the
NSA's rules, even hooks to this type of application is illegal.
Because Apache is based on NCSA code, and we had basically not touched
that part of the software, we were informed that Apache was also
illegal to distribute to foreign countries, and advised (not mandated)
by NCSA to remove it. So, we removed both the copies of the NCSA httpd
we had, and all versions of Apache previous to 0.6.5.
The Apache members are strong advocates of the right to digital
privacy, so the decision to submit to the NSA and remove the code was
not an easy one. Here are some elements in our rationale:
* The PEM code in httpd was not widely used. No major site relied
upon its use, so its loss is not a blow to encryption and security
on the world wide web. There are other efforts designed to give
much more flexible security - SSL and SHTTP - so this wasn't a
function whose absence would really be missed on a functional
* We didn't feel like being just a couple more martyrs in a fight
being fought very well by many other people. Rather than have the
machine that supports the project confiscated or relocated to
South Africa, etc., we think there are more efficient methods to
address the issue.
It kind of sickens us that we had to do it, but so be it.
Patches that re-implement the PEM code may be available at a foreign
site soon. If it does show up, we'll point to it - that can't be
Finally, here is a compendium of pointers to sites related to
encryption and export law. We can't promise this list will be up to
date, so send us mail when you see a problem or want a link added.
* Yahoo - Science: Mathematics: Security and Encryption
* EFF Crypto/Privacy/Security Archive
* Crypto page at Quadralay
* Cryptography Export Control Archives (Cygnus)
* ICLU - Your Rights in Cyberspace
Brian, [email protected]