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(Fwd) Policy Post 3.04 - Hse Judiciary Committee Approves SAFE

------- Forwarded Message Follows -------
   The Center for Democracy and Technology  /____/      Volume 3, 
A briefing on public policy issues affecting civil 
CDT POLICY POST Volume 3, Number 4                      
 May 14, 1997

 CONTENTS: (1) House Judiciary Committee Approves SAFE Internet Privacy bill
           (3) How to Subscribe/Unsubscribe
           (4) About CDT, contacting us

  ** This document may be redistributed freely with this banner intact **
        Excerpts may be re-posted with permission of <editor@cdt.org>
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The House Judiciary Committee today unanimously approved the Security and
Freedom through Encryption Act (SAFE) - a bill designed to promote privacy
and security on the Internet by encouraging the widespread availability of
encryption technology. The committee also agreed to three amendments,
including an amendment to narrow a provision of SAFE creating new criminal
penalties for the use of encryption to obstruct law enforcement
investigations of federal crimes.

"Today's vote -- the first ever approval of encryption policy reform
legislation by a full Congressional Committee -- signals an historic step
forward in the ongoing debate over encryption policy reform and is a
significant victory for privacy and security on the Internet", said CDT
executive Director Jerry Berman.

The bill now moves to the House International Relations Committee. The bill
is expected to face tougher opposition from the Administration as it moves
through the legislative process, including possible amendments to the
export provisions.

Although the Judiciary Committee approved SAFE by a unanimous voice vote,
not all members spoke in favor of the bill.  Representatives McCollum
(R-FL), Hyde (R-IL), Buyer (R-IN), and others expressed concerns about the
bill.  Their arguments, which track very closely with objections raised by
the NSA, FBI, and DOJ, center on the provisions relaxing current export
controls and the absence of mandates or incentives for key recovery.

The SAFE bill (HR 695), Sponsored by Reps. Goodlatte (R-VA), Lofgren
(D-CA), and over 86 others, would dramatically ease cold-war era encryption
export controls that currently keep strong encryption out of the hands of
Internet users.  The bill also prohibits the government from imposing
guaranteed law enforcement access to private communications through
"key-escrow" or "key-recovery" systems inside the US, and affirms the right
of all Americans to use whatever form of encryption they choose.

For more information on the SAFE bill, including the text of the
legislation and relevant background information on the encryption policy
debate, please visit CDT's encryption policy issues page at


The Judiciary Committee agreed to an amendment, offered by Rep. Delahunt
(D-MA), to narrow a controversial provision creating a new crime for the
use of encryption in the furtherance of a felony.  Privacy advocates,
including CDT, had expressed concern that the original provision could have
been read so broadly as to criminalize the everyday use of encryption in
cell phones, email, and web browsers.

The Delahunt amendment, which was agreed to by a unanimous voice vote,
substantially narrowed the criminal provision to apply only in those
circumstances where encryption is used to knowingly and willfully conceal
information relating to a felony.

The committee also approved an amendment offered by Rep. Hutchinson (R-AR)
to require the Attorney General to collect information on instances where
encryption has been used to interfere with the ability of the Justice
Department to enforce US laws.

Although this provision may help to provide insight into whether law
enforcement is actually running into problems due to the widespread
availability of encryption, information collected by DOJ under this
amendment would be classified. Unclassified summaries would be available to
members of Congress upon request.

The full text of the amendments agreed to today is available at

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The Center for Democracy and Technology is a non-profit public interest
organization based in Washington, DC. The Center's mission is to develop
and advocate public policies that advance democratic values and
constitutional civil liberties in new computer and communications

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End Policy Post 3.04                                           05/14/97

Alfred Poschmann <fredl@cube.net>, Journalist, 
Fax: 089/54505902