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> from [email protected] CfCL Weekly Update 10/30/98
Companies Create New Crypto Back Door
Hewlett-Packard and Wave Systems announced Tuesday that they have
developed a new programmable chip that can be adjusted to match
prevailing encryption policies. This system will only allow a computer
to encrypt data to the maximum level that local regulations allow. The
new program, called EMBASSY, must be registered with a "designated local
authority", who will activate the cryptography application.
The companies behind EMBASSY are hoping that the program will meet the
new Department of Commerce encryption export standards, which currently
place a 56-bit limit on exported software applications. While 90 percent
of countries have no domestic-use policies, the program allows law
enforcement agencies that mandate key recovery features, such as France,
to be able to obtain access to a user's encrypted files under certain
circumstances. Several countries, including the UK, Germany, France,
Denmark, Japan and Australia have already approved the technology. The
US will not issue export license until they are certain that the
recovery elements have been tested.
Privacy advocates were critical of EMBASSY. Jim Gilmore, co-founder of
the Electronic Frontier Foundation, expressed concern that the
cooperation of Hewlett-Packard and Wave Systems with the government may
lead to more surreptitious features being included into the program.
"What other black boxes have they put in this chip? Keystroke
monitoring? Recording traffic across the bus?" asked Gilmore. "If
they're giving you a black box, who's to say what other capabilities are
actually in that chip?"
Read this related WIRED News article: