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We're not surprised

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Tue, 9 Sep 1997 09:01:09 -0700 (PDT)
From: Declan McCullagh <[email protected]>
To: [email protected]
Subject: We're not surprised



FOR RELEASE:  August 16, 1995, 2:00 p.m. EST
            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 
            Clipper, and its underlying key-escrow encryption technology, 
       are designed to guarantee government agents "real-time" access to 
       encrypted communications.  This is accomplished by placing an 
       extra set of decryption "keys" in the hands of designated "escrow 
            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: