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SEA Opposes Privatization of Digital Signature Standard (fwd)
Simona Nass of SEA sent this over to me for y'all.
From: Simona Nass <[email protected]>
Subject: SEA Opposes Privatization of Digital Signature Standard (fwd)
> August 19, 1993 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
> CONTACT: Simona Nass
> (212) 982-4320 or [email protected]
> Society for Electronic Access (SEA) Opposes
> Privatization of Digital Signature Standard
> In June, the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST)
> published in the Federal Register its intention to grant an exclusive
> license for nongovernmental use of the Digital Signature Algorithm
> (DSA), a technique developed for NIST by federally-funded researchers.
> DSA can help people authenticate the origin of electronic mail and
> other computerized messages. NIST has proposed making DSA the basis of
> a standard for digital signatures for transactions within federal
> agencies and by anyone doing electronic business with the government
> (and thus, de facto, by anyone else interested in a widely-accepted
> digital-signature standard). Interested parties were given 60 days to
> comment. The SEA has now gone on record opposing this license on three
> 1) The law requires an open discussion of whether such an exclusive
> license serves the interests of both the government and the public
> _before_ the license and its terms are proposed.
> 2) The proposed license directly contravenes NIST's stated purpose
> in developing DSA in the first place, which was to make a
> digital-signature standard free of encumbrance from privately held
> patent licenses, one that would be available royalty-free worldwide.
> 3) The proposed license violates federal law governing the granting
> of exclusive licenses. The law states that an exclusive license can
> only be granted for a patent if it can be shown that the technology
> embodied in the patent would not otherwise be developed, brought to
> market and widely used. Considering that NIST's proposed licensee,
> Public Key Partners, is currently engaged in legal action to prevent
> anyone else from developing or marketing digital-signature technology
> in the U.S., they appear to be an unlikely choice to ensure the widest
> possible use of DSA. Indeed, granting an exclusive license to PKP
> would extend their potential legal monopoly on digital signatures
> until 2010.
> Opposition to the NIST/PKP deal has been widespread throughout the
> electronic community. NIST has yet to respond to the SEA's August 9
> filing, or to comments filed by other organizations (a full text of
> the SEA's statement, written by SEA board member Clay Shirky, is
> available via Internet gopher -- reach gopher.panix.com and look under
> Society for Electronic Access (SEA), Telecom Law Information, SEA
> Comment on NIST-PKP Agreement -- or via e-mail by sending a request
> asking for the "SEA Comment on NIST-PKP Agreement" to [email protected]).
> The Society for Electronic Access is a New York-based organization
> focusing on electronic civil liberties and access issues; for more
> information, e-mail [email protected]; write to The Society for
> Electronic Access, Post Office Box 3131, Church Street Station,
> New York, NY 10008-3131; or call (212) 982-4320.