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FBI Files on Clipper Releas

FOR RELEASE:  August 16, 1995, 2:00 p.m. EST

CONTACT: David Sobel (202) 544-9240


	WASHINGTON, DC - Newly-released government documents show 
that key federal agencies concluded more than two years ago that 
the "Clipper Chip" encryption initiative will only succeed if 
alternative security techniques are outlawed.  The Electronic 
Privacy Information Center (EPIC) obtained the documents from the 
Federal Bureau of Investigation under the Freedom of Information 
Act.  EPIC, a non-profit research group, received hundreds of 
pages of material from FBI files concerning Clipper and 

	The conclusions contained in the documents appear to conflict 
with frequent Administration claims that use of Clipper technology 
will remain "voluntary."  Critics of the government's initiative, 
including EPIC, have long maintained that the Clipper "key-escrow 
encryption" technique would only serve its stated purpose if made 
mandatory.  According to the FBI documents, that view is shared by 
the Bureau, the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Department 
of Justice (DOJ).

	In a "briefing document" titled "Encryption: The Threat, 
Applications and Potential Solutions," and sent to the National 
Security Council in February 1993, the FBI, NSA and DOJ concluded 

     Technical solutions, such as they are, will only work if 
     they are incorporated into *all* encryption products.  
     To ensure that this occurs, legislation mandating the 
     use of Government-approved encryption products or 
     adherence to Government encryption criteria is required.

	Likewise, an undated FBI report titled "Impact of Emerging 
Telecommunications Technologies on Law Enforcement" observes that 
"[a]lthough the export of encryption products by the United States 
is controlled, domestic use is not regulated."  The report 
concludes that "a national policy embodied in legislation is 
needed."  Such a policy, according to the FBI, must ensure "real-
time decryption by law enforcement" and "prohibit[] cryptography 
that cannot meet the Government standard."

	The FBI conclusions stand in stark contrast to public 
assurances that the government does not intend to prohibit the use 
of non-escrowed encryption.  Testifying before a Senate Judiciary 
Subcommittee on May 3, 1994, Assistant Attorney General Jo Ann 
Harris asserted that:

     As the Administration has made clear on a number of 
     occasions, the key-escrow encryption initiative is a 
     voluntary one; we have absolutely no intention of 
     mandating private use of a particular kind of 
     cryptography, nor of criminalizing the private use of 
     certain kinds of cryptography.

 	According to EPIC Legal Counsel David Sobel, the newly-
disclosed information "demonstrates that the architects of the 
Clipper program -- NSA and the FBI -- have always recognized that 
key-escrow must eventually be mandated.  As privacy advocates and 
industry have always said, Clipper does nothing for law 
enforcement unless the alternatives are outlawed."

	Scanned images of several key documents are available via the 
World Wide Web at the EPIC Home Page:



Subject: FBI Files on Clipper Released
David Banisar ([email protected])        *  202-544-9240 (tel)
Electronic Privacy Information Center   *  202-547-5482 (fax)
666 Pennsylvania Ave, SE, Suite 301     *  HTTP://epic.org
Washington, DC 20003                    *  ftp/gopher/wais cpsr.org