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ALERT: Call the Commerce committee to protect your privacy! (9/7/96)
SENATE COMMERCE COMMITTEE SCHEDULED TO VOTE ON PRO-PRIVACY
ENCRYPTION LEGISLATION (S.1726) ON THU SEPTEMBER 12, 1996
YOUR HELP IS NEEDED TO ENSURE PASSAGE
CALL THE COMMERCE COMMITTEE (PHONE NUMBERS BELOW)
September 8, 1996
Please widely redistribute this document with this banner intact
until September 30, 1996
The Latest News
What You Can Do Now
Background / What To Expect This Week
Description of S.1726, Pro-CODE Bill
Chronology of Pro-Crypto Legislation
For More Information / Supporting Organizations
THE LATEST NEWS
On Thursday September 12, the Senate Commerce Committee is set to vote
on legislation designed to enhance privacy and security on the Internet.
The bill, known as the "Promotion of Commerce Online in the Digital Era
(Pro-CODE) Act," (S. 1726) is the best hope yet for real reform of U.S.
encryption policy, and its passage by the Commerce Committee would signify
a critical step forward in the struggle for privacy and security in the
The bill faces significant opposition from the Clinton Administration,
who continues to cling to a cold-war era view of U.S. encryption policy.
IT IS ESSENTIAL THAT THE COMMERCE COMMITTEE HEAR FROM SUPPORTERS OF PRIVACY
AND SECURITY ON THE INTERNET. Please take a moment to contact the committee
by following the simple instructions below.
WHAT YOU CAN DO NOW
It's crucial that you call the Commerce committee members below and
urge them to pass S.1726 out of committee without amendments. (This is
also known as a "clean" bill.) Any opportunity for amendments (even if
they are good) opens us up to the possibility of hostile amendments
that could restrict the use of encryption even further than today's
abysmal state. It could even prohibit the use of encryption without
Clipper Chip-like key 'escrow' technology, which includes built-in
surveillance and monitoring functionality.
1. Call/Fax the members of the Senate Commerce committee and urge
them to pass S.1726 out of committee "cleanly". Do not use email,
as it is not likely to be looked at in time to make a difference
for the markup on September 12th.
Use the sample communique and directory listing below to make it a
simple TWO MINUTE task.
2. Sign the petition to support strong encryption at
http://www.crypto.com/petition/ ! Join other cyber-heroes as
Phil Zimmermann, Matt Blaze, Bruce Schneier, Vince Cate, Phil Karn, and
others who have also signed.
3. Between now and Wed. September 12, it is crucial that you call all
these members of Congress.
P ST Name and Address Phone Fax
= == ======================== ============== ==============
D SC Hollings, Ernest F. 1-202-224-6121 1-202-224-4293
D MA Kerry, John F. 1-202-224-2742 1-202-224-8525
D HI Inouye, Daniel K. 1-202-224-3934 1-202-224-6747
D KY Ford, Wendell H. 1-202-224-4343 1-202-224-0046
D WV Rockefeller, John D. 1-202-224-6472 na
D LA Breaux, John B. 1-202-224-4623 na
D NV Bryan, Richard H. 1-202-224-6244 1-202-224-1867
D ND Dorgan, Byron L. 1-202-224-2551 1-202-224-1193
D NE Exon, J. J. 1-202-224-4224 1-202-224-5213
D OR Wyden, Ron* 1-202-224-5244 1-202-228-2717
R SD Pressler, Larry* 1-202-224-5842 1-202-224-1259
R MT Burns, Conrad R.(*sponsor) 1-202-224-2644 1-202-224-8594
R AK Stevens, Ted 1-202-224-3004 1-202-224-2354
R AZ McCain, John 1-202-224-2235 1-202-224-2862
R WA Gorton, Slade 1-202-224-3441 1-202-224-9393
R MS Lott, Trent* 1-202-224-6253 1-202-224-2262
R TX Hutchison, Kay Bailey 1-202-224-5922 1-202-224-0776
R ME Snowe, Olympia 1-202-224-5344 1-202-224-6853
R MO Ashcroft, John* 1-202-224-6154 na
R TN Frist, Bill 1-202-224-3344 1-202-224-8062
R MI Abraham, Spencer 1-202-224-4822 1-202-224-8834
* supporter or cosponsor. The bill also enjoys broad bi-partisan
support from members not on the committee including Senators Leahy
(D-VT) and Murray (D-WA).
4. Here is a sample conversation:
SAMPLE PHONE CALL
Sen:Hello, Senator Mojo's office!
SAY I'm calling to urge the Senator to pass S.1726, the
THIS-> Burns/Leahy/Pressler bill, S.1726 when the committee votes on
it on Thursday. It's critical to the future of privacy, security,
and electronic commerce on the internet.
IF THEY SAY
"The Senator has concerns about the bill",
"Please try to work these issues out as it moves to the Senate floor,
but passage out of committee will send an important signal to
5. To help us measure the effectiveness of the campaign, WE NEED TO HEAR FROM
YOU. Please tell us who you called, and how they sounded. We'll be
passing this information to folks in D.C. who can help apply pressure
$ Mail [email protected]
Subject: I called so-and-so
Hey, I called Sen. Mojo. He sounded iffy, call in the
6. Forward this to your friends and colleagues in appropriate forums
until the date of expiration at the top. Forward a copy of this to
your Internet Service Provider as well, and ask them to put the following
text in their message of the day (motd), or on their WWW page:
ALERT ALERT ALERT ALERT ALERT ALERT ALERT ALERT ALERT ALERT ALERT
The U.S. Senate will be voting on a proposal to encourage
better security on the Internet on Thu Sep. 12th. Your help is
needed to call Congress. See http://www.crypto.com/ for more
ALERT ALERT ALERT ALERT ALERT ALERT ALERT ALERT ALERT ALERT ALERT
BACKGROUND / WHAT TO EXPECT THIS WEEK
For the past 3 years, Cyber-Rights Activists, citizens, and industry
leaders have been working hard to reform US encryption policy.
Support has been building behind several legislative proposals this
year because they send a clear signal to the Administration about the
need for security and privacy in the Information Age. The digital
revolution is currently being held hostage by the White House's Cold
War restrictions on privacy-enhancing encryption technology.
Now, with Congress less than a month away from adjournment, everyone
who supports encryption and privacy is working to see this bill leave
committee in order to send a clear message to the White House that they
are on the wrong side of the encryption issue. Although this bill may
not become law this year, its passage out of committee will be a
landmark event that will clearly tell the White House that the
Congress, the public, and the computer industry care about security and
privacy, and need strong, reliable encryption technology in order to
make the Internet a viable platform for commerce, education, and
Success for our side is not certain, and the next week is not without risks.
On September 12th, the Senate Commerce committee will hold a "markup",
where the bill is examined, voted on, and if there are enough votes,
passed out of committee. Two things could happen:
-the committee could pass the bill as written,
-the committee could pass the bill with amendments.
Any amendments are not likely to be friendly, and in particular, quiet
sources have told privacy activists that the Clinton Administration has been
readying a legislative assault on your right to use encryption for several
weeks now. A Clipper-like amendment could be attached to the bill if
our side does not have enough votes to block all amendments.
It is crucial that all netizens who consider privacy and security important
take a moment to call members of the Commerce Committee right now and
urge them to vote S.1726 out of committee without amendments.
DESCRIPTION OF S.1726, PRO-CODE BILL
Privacy-enhancing encryption technology is currently under heavy restrictions
kept in place by the White House. Encryption that is currently allowed to
be exported is not sufficient to protect confidential information. This
policy acquires an "Alice-in-Wonderland" quality when one realizes that
strong encryption products are available abroad both for sale and for free
download off the Internet.
The Pro-CODE Act resolves to:
1. Allow for the *unrestricted* export of "mass-market" or "public-domain"
encryption programs, including such products as Pretty Good Privacy and
popular World Wide Web browsers.
2. Requires the Secretary of Commerce to allow the less restricted export
of other encryption technologies if products of similar strength are
generally available outside the United States, roughly up to DES
3. Prohibits the federal government from imposing mandatory key-escrow
encryption policies on the domestic market and limiting the authority
of the Secretary of Commerce to set standards for encryption products.
CHRONOLOGY OF PRO-CRYPTO LEGISLATION
Senate Commerce committee will hold markup of S.1726 and hopefully pass it
out of committee with no amendments.
7/25/96: Full Senate Commerce committee holds positive hearings on S.1726.
FBI Director Louis Freeh testifies along with many cyber-luminaries.
Hearings are cybercast Internet Cyber-Rights activists with HotWired
and WWW.Crypto.Com. You can see the photos, read the testimony, and
listen to the audio transcript at http://www.crypto.com/events/072596/
6/26/96: Senate subcommittee holds positive hearings on S.1726. Hearings are
cybercast Internet Cyber-Rights activists with HotWired and WWW.Crypto.Com.
You can see the photos, read the testimony, and listen to the audio
transcript at http://www.crypto.com/events/062696/
5/2/96: Bi-partisan group of Senators introduce Pro-CODE Act, which would
free public-domain encryption software (such as PGP) for export, free much
commercial encryption for export, and reduce the government's ability to
push Clipper proposals down the throats of an unwilling public. Original
sponsors include: Senators Burns (R-MT), Dole (R-KS), Faircloth (R-NC),
Leahy (D-VT), Murray (D-WA), Pressler (R-SD), and Wyden (D-OR).
3/5/96: Sen. Leahy (D-VT) and Rep. Goodlatte (R-VA) announce encryption bills
(S.1587/H.R.3011) that significantly relax export restrictions on products
with encryption functionality in them, as well as free public domain software
such as PGP (Pretty Good Privacy).
FOR MORE INFORMATION / SUPPORTING ORGANIZATIONS
There are many excellent resources online to get up to speed on crypto
including the following WWW sites:
http://www.crypto.com http://www.privacy.org http://www.eff.org
http://www.cdt.org http://www.epic.org http://www.vtw.org
Please visit them often.
The following organizations have signed onto this alert:
Center for Democracy and Technology
Electronic Frontier Foundation
Electronic Privacy Information Center
Voters Telecommunications Watch