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Crypto-ban will pass Commerce cmte next week, from Reuters



Attached below is a Reuters article on how the House Commerce committee is
about to approve an amendment banning the distribution of encryption
products without a government backdoor. The Commerce committee would then
join the Intelligence committee, which approved a similar measure last week.

I generally agree with Aaron's (who wrote the article) take on the
situation. Late this evening some lobbyists called me to promise some good
news tomorrow, but momentum is clearly against them. After the full
committee vote next Thursday, some sort of compromise legislation will
likely go to the House floor -- at least if the leadership lets it. It's
unclear whether that would happen this year or not.

So much for the millions of dollars industry wasted on crypto-lobbying. The
lobbyists (and high-tech executives) should have realized long ago that
legislatures often are enemies of civil liberties. Civil liberties are
anti-majoritarian, and usually unpopular, by their very nature. Look at
what happened with the CDA -- it took the Supreme Court to undo Congress'
bad work.

Also, I recently spoke with Rep. Michael Oxley (R-Ohio), a former FBI
agent, who's on the House Commerce committee that will consider SAFE next
week. A version of his amendment that will be introduced is at:

  http://www.cdt.org/crypto/legis_105/SAFE/Oxley_Manton.html

I wrote about crypto-compromises recently at:

  http://cgi.pathfinder.com/netly/editorial/0,1012,1412,00.html

Attached is an excerpt from my conversation with Oxley...

-Declan

*****************

IS THERE A COMPROMISE IN THE WORKS?

	I can't give you any definitive answer on that.

	They have to recognize that our committee is prepared
	to accept my amendment. The Intelligence Committee
	has already passed an amendment unanimously. The
	National Security Committee passed an amendment
	45-1. It's going to be the amendment in some
	form...

	The briefing that law enforcement and the FBI and DEA
	and the NSA and the CIA -- that was a pretty
	sobering briefing that the members got. At least
	it was in our committee. It brought up a lot of
	issues that hadn't been considered before...

	If it's a fight and it's up or down on my amendment,
	my amendment passes. Goodlatte told me that. He knew
	I had the votes. [Rep Goodlatte is the chief sponsor
	of the original SAFE bill]

WOULD YOU TAKE SEN. KYL'S LEAD AND MOVE TO BAN NOT
JUST THE DISTRIBUTION, BUT THE //USE// OF ENCRYPTION
WITHOUT A KEY RECOVERY FEATURE?

	I've had some discussions with Kyl and we're working
	with him to find out what the best approach is.

WOULD YOU INTRODUCE THE INTELLIGENCE DRAFT?

	That's still an option but we haven't made that
	determination yet. [The Intelligence committee bill
	is a slightly more extreme proposal.]

	I think the overwhelming sentiment in the House is
	towards protecting national security and providing
	law enforcement with the tools they need to combat
	this activity. This is a very complicated
	technological issue. My sense is that Bob Goodlatte
	and the folks who support that bill want other
	members to say we have to give up: we can't protect
	people from terrorists and organized crime since the
	technology has run.

HAS YOUR EXPERIENCE AS AN FBI AGENT SENSITIZED YOU TO
LOUIS FREEH'S ARGUMENTS?

	Oh clearly, sure. I used to tap phones for a living.
	That was old technology, but the concept is clearly
	the same.

-----

Date: Thu, 18 Sep 1997 18:39:35 -0400
From: Aaron Pressman <[email protected]>
To: [email protected]
Subject: reuters encryption story

U.S. encryption bill inspires little give and take
    By Aaron Pressman
   WASHINGTON, Sept 18 (Reuter) - Like many who have tried to broach a
compromise on the knotty issue of regulating computer encoding technology,
members of the House Commerce Committee are finding their negotiation
efforts futile, people involved said on Thursday.
   With talks deadlocked, the committee is likely to vote next week on
virtually the same amendments that would have been considered previously,
and most participants said a restrictive proposal favored by
law-enforcement agencies would carry the day.
   An essential means of safeguarding communications and electronic
commerce over the Internet, encryption products scramble information and
render it unreadable without a password or software "key."
   Barring a surprise change in momentum, the committee will likely approve
 an amendment from Rep. Mike Oxley, Republican of Ohio, to impose
restrictions for the first time on domestic sales and distribution of
encryption products, staffers and lobbyists said.
   "He has the votes," said an industry lobbyist opposed to Oxley's
amendment. "To call this negotiation is kind of a joke."
   Oxley's staff also conceded that talks were not proving fruitful. "We're
 negotiating with the other side, but I don't think there's a lot of middle
 ground here," Oxley spokeswoman Peggy Peterson said.
   One week ago, the committee postponed a vote on a bill by Virginia
Republican Bob Goodlatte that was originally intended to relax strict U.S.
export limits on encryption and prohibit mandatory backdoor access for the
government.
   The Republican leadership gave the committee two weeks to find an
approach that would be acceptable to law enforcement and national security
agencies on one side, and software companies, civil libertarians and
Internet users on the other.
   Rep. Rick White, Republican of Washington, and Rep. Ed Markey, Democrat
of Massachusetts, had prepared an amendment requiring a study on backdoor
access technologies but their proposal has not attracted much support from
the FBI or the leadership of the committee.
   "Language can be changed but at the end of the day, it doesn't get law
enforcement on board," one staffer said.
   FBI Director Louis Freeh has repeatedly told lawmakers to adopt
restrictions forcing encryption manufacturers to include features allowing
law enforcers to decode any message covertly. Freeh said without such a
law, criminals and terrorists would increasingly use encryption to thwart
FBI surveillance.
   Software companies counter that adding such features may be impossible
and would reduce the level of security provided to legitimate citizens and
businesses seeking to safeguard their communications. And civil
libertarians said the FBI proposal would permit an Orwellian intrusion of
government snooping into everyone's private affairs.
   Domestic restrictions like those in the Oxley amendment were added to
the original bill by the Select Committee on Intelligence in a classified
session last week.
   A few days earlier, the National Security Committee gutted the export
relaxation provisions drafted by Goodlatte and replaced them with export
limits tighter than current rules.
Thursday, 18 September 1997 18:06:50
RTRS [nN18296706]