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Administration backs away from FBI on crypto, by A.Pressman (fwd)

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Thu, 4 Sep 1997 17:06:08 -0700 (PDT)
From: Declan McCullagh <[email protected]>
To: [email protected]
Subject: Administration backs away from FBI on crypto, by A.Pressman

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Thu, 04 Sep 1997 16:55:06 -0400
From: Aaron Pressman <[email protected]>
To: [email protected]
Subject: crytpo etc

Clinton administration back away from FBI on encryption
    By Aaron Pressman
   WASHINGTON, Sept 4 (Reuter) - The Clinton administration's top official
on encryption policy on Thursday backed away from a proposal by the head of
 the FBI to regulate for the first time computer coding products in the
United States.
   "What he proposed was not the administration's policy," Commerce
Undersecretary William Reinsch told reporters during a break at a
congressional hearing.
   FBI Director Louis Freeh's comments Wednesday before a subcommittee of
the Senate Judiciary Committee sparked strong criticism from civil
liberties groups and the software industry.
   U.S. law strictly regulates the export of encryption products, which can
 be used to scramble information and render it unreadable without a
password or software "key." But on Wednesday, Freeh proposed mandatory
controls on currently unregulated coding products intended solely for
domestic use.
   "The administration has been very clear to the director that he has an
obligation to tell the Congress what's in the interests of law enforcement,
 and he did that," Reinsch explained. "That doesn't mean he was speaking
for everybody."
   Freeh said makers of encryption products should include features that
would allow the government to crack any message.
   Without such capabilities, criminals, terrorists and pedophiles could
use encryption to hide their communications from law enforcement agencies,
Freeh said.
   But software companies maintain that Freeh's plan would make their
products less attractive and make all electronic messages less secure.
Civil liberties groups said mandatory controls on domestic encryption might
 violate constitutional guarantees of free speech and privacy.
   Under the FBI director's proposal, all encryption products would have a
feature allowing government access to coded messages, but users could
disable or avoid using the feature.
   Some senators wanted to go further. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a California
Democrat, proposed requiring all users of encryption to enable the
back-door access feature. Freeh said such a law would be the best solution
for law enforcement but added that he did not think it was politically
   Reinsch said Freeh's proposal was also unlikely to pass.
   "If the committee were to report that (bill out), I think that would be
something we would look at very seriously," he said. "But I don't expect
that to happen. We have not asked them to report that and we are not going
to ask them to report that."

Thursday, 4 September 1997 16:13:38
RTRS [nN04290412]

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