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InfoWorld Letter

Brought to without permission of anyone in authority.

InfoWorld August 2,1993
Section: To the Editor (pg.54)

_Big Brother's encryption_

   In his Peer to Peer essay on the Clipper data encryption chip (see "Clipper
chip won't clip your wings, it will just protect the unprotected," June 21,
page 55), A. Padgett Peterson contends that "the government has more to lose
by being exposed to world ridicule from a trapdoor or backdoor than it can 
hope to gain." My direct experience with the National Security Agency indicates
   At the 1981 fall Comdex, Epic computer Corp. unveiled Kryptyk, the only
commerical E-mail crypto package for CP/M computers. My software team and I had
implemented the first RSA public key cryptosystem for microprocessors. Our 
booth was swamped with managers from the Fortune 500 and many international
   Our ecstasy was still strong when a week later we were visited by the NSA.
I proudly explained that we could not inject a trapdoor function -- that
cracking the algorithm was computationally infeasible, even with the then-
recent advances of prime number theory in France.
   Within a month we received a letter from the Bureau of Tobacco and Firearms
the proclaimed our product was "strategic munition" and could not be sold
either to multinational companies nor outside the continental United States --
a heavy penalty for not allowing a trapdoor. And we should believe that NIST
and NSA did not boobytrap the Clipper chip?
   I agree with Mr. Peterson that "security by obscurity just does not work."
Remember Watergate? Teh Warren Commission's magic-bullet findings? But as long
as governments are the only people who can depend on having secrets, they
will always view their citizenry as fools to be manipulated. And when 
governments sanction data security, rest assured they can freely "E-avesdrop"

Steven Fisher, CDP
Controlled Information Environments
Compuserve: 71750,3203

All spelling mistakes my own.

R  O    All Comments Copyright by  | Technofetisht
 A  N     Paul S. Goggin (1993)    | Cypher, Cyber, Chaos              
  V        Information Broker      | Ergoflux, Interzone
   E      [email protected]     | Carpe Diem: Stop the Clipper wiretap chip 
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