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wassenar crypto agrmt/wiretapping
From: Jonathan David Boyne <[email protected]>
To: Undisclosed recipients:;
Subject: [exploration] The Wassenaar Invasion of Privacy (fwd)
><A HREF="http://www.zolatimes.com/V2.41/pageone.html">Laissez Faire City
>- Volume 2 Issue 41</A>
>The Laissez Faire City Times
>December 7, 1998 - Volume 2, Issue 41
>Editor & Chief: Emile Zola
>The Wassenaar Invasion of Privacy
>by J. Orlin Grabbe
>>From the first moment it proclaimed the "information superhighway", the
>Clinton administration has waged a wholesale assault on Internet free
>speech and privacy.
>The latest blow is the Clinton administration's strong- arming of the 32
>fellow countries of the Wassenaar Arrangement to agree to an export ban
>on strong cryptographic (data scrambling) software. The net effect will
>be to make it easier for each government to read its own citizen's email
>and other private documents.
>Normally if a nation attempts to restrict the domestic sale of strong
>encryption software, that attempt is made ineffective by the
>availability of strong encryption software from other countries. But
>such software won't be available anymore--at least not from one of the
>Wassenaar countries, once they have enacted local legislation to
>implement the terms of the Wassenaar agreement of December 2.
>The Wassenaar Arrangement is supposed to be an intergovernmental
>agreement to restrict international traffic in arms. What does this have
>to do with encryption? Simply this: the US government still holds that
>secret-code-producing software is a munition. So if you encrypt your
>letters and files, and the government hasn't given you permission to use
>that caliber encryption, then the person who gave you the encryption
>software may be in violation of some regulation on arms dealing.
>"They've plugged a loophole," gleefully proclaimed Ambassador David
>Aaron, the President's Special Envoy for Cryptology. The day following
>the agreement, the US Department of Commerce issued a press release in
>which Aaron spouts gobble-de-gook phrases about a "level playing field"
>and about balancing "commercial and privacy interests with national
>security and public safety concerns" (see Appendix A for Commerce Dept.
>How has this agreement supposedly created a "level playing field" and
>helped U.S. industry? Well, namely, by censoring foreign publishers of
>cryptology software in the same way that the US government already
>censors US publishers. This is similar to arguing that by increasing
>tyranny in surrounding countries, we can create a "level playing field"
>"It's ironic, but the US government is leading the charge
>internationally to restrict personal privacy and individual liberty
>around the world," said Alan Davidson, a staff counsel at the Center for
>Democracy and Technology, according to Reuters (see Appendix B for
>Reuter's news release).
>A restriction on cryptology is a restriction on free speech. In the
>Second World War, the US used native Navaho speakers for secure
>communications. Since no one else understood the language, it served as
>a powerful secret code. But is what you speak or write in an email
>message suddenly not speech or language if the government can't
>understand it? If your message says "Xu23MN iilc]z MNBl", does the
>government suddenly have the right to imprison you for writing
>While the clear answer is No, nevertheless the US government thinks it
>has the right to restrict your "gibberish" if it is produced by
>encryption software that it can't crack. The Wassenaar agreement says
>encryption software that is "weak" (less than 56 bit keys in some cases,
>or less than 64 bit keys in others), so that the government can
>unscramble and read the real message underneath the gibberish, is okay,
>and in fact frees up some export restrictions on this type of software.
>The trade-off? Greater restrictions on software that produces secret
>code the government can't read.
>Arms control. It sounds wonderful, doesn't it? Go over to the Wassenaar
> web page and take a look. High nobility of purpose, right? "We're
>keeping those guns away from the Indians," they proclaim. But what they
>mean to say is: "We fully intend to read what is written on the hard
>drive of your computer."
>Posting to the cypherpunks mailing list, Timothy May noted:
>I recently heard T. J. Rodgers, CEO of Cypress Semiconductor, repeat his
>oft-made point that Silicon Valley and the high tech industry gains
>nothing by talking to Washington. That as soon as dialog is started with
>Washington, things get worse. This applies as well to crypto, to gun
>rights, to everything. Everything Washington touches turns to statist
>Is there any good news? Enabling legislation has to be enacted in each
>country to carry out the terms of the Wassenaar agreement. Raising a hue
>and cry with legislators over this latest invasion of privacy should
>have a positive effect.
>In the meantime, Mr. "Information Superhighway" Al Gore is poised for a
>presidential run, so he can continue to ignore privacy concerns and bend
>over for the Big Brother agencies of the national security
>•The End of Ordinary Money: Part 1
>•The End of Ordinary Money: Part 2
>Appendix A: Commerce Dept. Press Release
>UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE NEWS
>International Trade Administration
>For Immediate Release
>Tuesday, December 3, 1998
>Contact: Maria Harris Tildon
> Sue Hofer
>P R E S S S T A T E M E N T
>U.S. Applauds Agreement on Encryption in International Export
>Vienna, Austria -- The United States welcomed the decision taken
>Thursday in Vienna by the 33 members of the Wassenaar Arrangement
>to modernize and improve multilateral encryption export controls.
>Ambassador David Aaron, the President's Special Envoy for Cryptology,
>said that "the international agreement reached here goes a long way
>toward leveling the playing field for exporters and promoting
>electornic commerce. It provides countries with a stronger
>regulatory framework to protect national security and public safety."
>The agreement caps a two year effort by the United States, to update
>international encryption export controls and to balance commercial
>and privacy interests with national security and public safety
>concerns. Thursday's agreement simplifies and streamlines controls
>on many encryption items and eliminates multilateral reporting
>requirements. Specific improvements to multilateral encryption
>controls include removing controls on all encryption products at
>or below 56 bit and certain consumer entertainment TV systems, such
>as DVD products, and on cordless telephone systems designed for
>home or office use.
>Wassenaar members also agreed to extend controls to mass-market
>encryption above 64 bits, thus closing a significant loophole in
>multilateral encryption controls. This gives Wassenaar member
>governments the legal authority to license many mass market
>encryption software exports which were previously not covered by
>multilateral controls and enables governments to review the
>dissemination of the strongest encryption products that might
>fall into the hands of rogue end users. The new controls also
>extend liberalized mass-market hardware below 64 bits. Until
>today, only mass-market software products enjoyed this
>"The decisions taken here in Vienna reinforce the Administration's
>efforts to promote a balanced encryption policy," Aaron confirmed.
>Appendix B: Reuters News Release
>Thursday, 3 December 1998 12:57:40
>U.S. claims success in curbing encryption trade
>Aaron Pressman, Reuters, Washington newsroom, 202-898-8312
>WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Clinton administration officials
>Thursday said they had persuaded other leading countries to
>impose strict new export controls on computer
>data-scrambling products under the guise of arms control.
>At a meeting Thursday in Vienna, the 33 nations that have
>signed the Wassenaar Arrangement limiting arms exports --
>including Japan, Germany and Britain -- agreed to impose
>controls on the most powerful data-scrambling technologies,
>including for the first time mass-market software, U.S.
>special envoy for cryptography David Aaron told Reuters.
>The United States, which restricts exports of a wide range of
>data-scrambling products and software -- also known as
>encryption -- has long sought without success to persuade
>other countries to impose similar restrictions.
>``We think this is very important in terms of bringing a level
>playing field for our exporters,'' Aaron said.
>Leading U.S. high-technology companies, including Microsoft
>Corp. and Intel Corp., have complained that the lack of
>restrictions in other countries hampered their ability to
>compete abroad. The industry has sought to have U.S.
>restrictions relaxed or repealed, but has not asked for tighter
>controls in other countries.
>Privacy advocates have also staunchly opposed U.S. export
>controls on encryption, arguing that data-scrambling
>technologies provided a crucial means of protecting privacy in
>the digital age.
>``It's ironic, but the U.S. government is leading the charge
>internationally to restrict personal privacy and individual
>liberty around the world,'' said Alan Davidson, staff counsel at
>the Center for Democracy and Technology, a Washington-based
>Special envoy Aaron said the Wassenaar countries agreed to
>continue export controls on powerful encryption products in
>general but decided to end an exemption for widely available
>software containing such capabilities.
>``They plugged a loophole,'' Aaron said.
>The new policy also reduced reporting and paperwork
>requirements and specifically excluded from export controls
>products that used encryption to protect intellectual property
>-- such as movies or recordings sent over the Internet -- from
>illegal copying, Aaron said.
>Encryption uses mathematical formulas to scramble
>information and render it unreadable without a password or
>software ``key.'' One important measure of the strength of the
>encryption is the length of the software key, measured in bits,
>the ones and zeros that make up the smallest unit of computer
>With the increasing speed and falling prices of computers,
>data encrypted with a key 40 bits long that was considered
>highly secure several years ago can now be cracked in a few
>hours. Cutting-edge electronic commerce and communications
>programs typically use 128-bit or longer keys.
>Under Thursday's agreement, Wassenaar countries would
>restrict exports of general encryption products using more
>than 56-bit keys and mass-market products with keys more
>than 64 bits long, Aaron said.
>Each country must now draft its own rules to implement the
>from The Laissez Faire City Times, Vol. 2, No. 41, Dec. 7, 1998
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>Adieu, Adios, Aloha.
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