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House Intelligence Committee Press Release



INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE OFFERS ALTERNATIVE ENCRYPTION LEGISLATION TO ADDRESS
SECURITY CONCERNS

SEPTEMBER 11, 1997
CONTACT (202) 225-4121

The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) today
approved, by voice vote, legislation proposing an alternative to pending
encryption legislation, known as the "Security and Freedom Through
Encryption Act" (H.R. 695).

The HPSCI amendment in the nature of a substitute to HR 695 proposes
safeguards in the law to meet national security and law enforcement
concerns in the debate over the future of United States Encryption policy.

"All members of Congress, and particularly those of us on the Intelligence
Committee, have a responsibility to find the proper balance between forward
thinking commercial policies and the unquestioned need to protect the
security of the American people and America's national interests. We are
offering proposals to ensure that we do not plow full steam ahead into the
21st century's information age having seriously weakened our ability to
protect the national security, " said HPSCI Chairman Porter J. Goss
(Fl-14).

"American citizens have a right to their privacy and their access to the
freest possible markets. But they also have a right to their safety and
security. Terrorist groups that plot to blow up buildings; drug cartels
that seek to poison our children, and those who proliferate in deadly
chemical and biological weapons are all formidable opponents of peace and
security in the global society. These bad actors must know that the United
States' law enforcement and national security agencies, working under the
proper oversight, will have the tools to frustrate illegal and deadly
activity and bring international criminals to justice," Goss said.

"The bill referred to the Intelligence Committee attempts to deal with
complex issues. The substitute adopted by the Committee addresses the
legitimate national security and law enforcement concerns that are simply
not addressed in H.R. 695. In that respect, the Committee substitute, in my
judgment, furthers the debate on these important matters," noted Ranking
Democrat Norm Dicks (WA-6).

The main elements of the Intelligence Committee's proposal are:

* Requires exports of encryption products to submit to a one-time review
and to include features or functions (that need not be enabled by the
manufacturer) allowing for immediate access to plaintext or to decryption
information;

* Requires that encryption products manufactured and distributed for sale
or use, or import for sale or use, in the United States after January 31,
2000 include features or functions that provide, upon presentment of a
court order, immediate access to plaintext data or decryption information
from the encryption provider;

* Does not change law enforcement's statutory requirements prior to
intercepting oral, wire, or electronic (wireless) communications, or law
enforcement's requirements prior to obtaining stored data. Law enforcement
will specifically be required to obtain a separate court order to have
data, including communications, decrypted;

* Allows for law enforcement access with delayed notification requirements,
similar to those allowed in current wiretap statutory provisions:

* Provide civil remedies and criminal penalties for unlawful access to or
disclosure of plaintext or decryption information;

* Require US government procurement of encryption technology that includes
functions or features allowing for immediate access to plaintext or
decryption information.

"Our committee has weighed in on these issues in the interest of furthering
the important debate now underway about how best to accomplish the multiple
goals of a sound encryption policy. Any encryption legislation we consider
must take a balanced approach to the national security, law enforcement,
public safety and privacy issues at stake. Our action today marks another
step in this process, which no doubt will continue to unfold in the days
and weeks ahead. I look forward to working with all sides on this debate as
we tackle this complex but important issue," Goss said.

The HPSCI, which sought and received sequential referral of H.R. 695, is
one of five House committees with jurisdiction on this issue. The
Committees on Judiciary, International Relations, National Security and
Commerce have also considered this legislation. The HPSCI expects to file
its committee report with the House tomorrow, meeting its deadline for
action set by the Speaker.

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