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[fwd] Congress Acts on Encryption Legislation (from: fmz1@juno.com)


----- Forwarded message from "F. Michael Zimmerman" <fmz1@juno.com> -----

To: pgp-users@joshua.rivertown.net, ukcrypto@maillist.ox.ac.uk
Date: Thu, 8 Jul 1999 02:28:24 PDT
Subject: Congress Acts on Encryption Legislation
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From: "F. Michael Zimmerman" <fmz1@juno.com>
Reply-To: ukcrypto@maillist.ox.ac.uk
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                            Published by the
              Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC)
                            Washington, D.C.
Congress Acts on Encryption Legislation

On June 23, the House Commerce Committee approved the Security and
Freedom Through Encryption (SAFE) bill (H.R. 850), which would relax
export controls on encryption, with several amendments. One of the
amendments would make it a crime to fail to decrypt encrypted
information when ordered to do so, raising serious privacy and
constitutional concerns.  The new provision would impose criminal
penalties (including up to ten years in prison) on anyone who

     is required by an order of any court to provide to
     the court or any other party any information in such
     person's possession which has been encrypted and who,
     having possession of the key or such other capability
     to decrypt such information into the readable or
     comprehensible format of such information prior to
     its encryption, fails to provide such information in
     accordance with the order in such readable or
     comprehensible form.

House consideration of the SAFE bill will continue for at least
another month; the International Relations Committee has until July 16
to act on the legislation and Intelligence and Armed Services have
until July 23.  The House Armed Services Committee has scheduled a
hearing on the bill for June 30.

Also on June 23, the Senate Commerce Committee approved the PROTECT
encryption bill (S. 798).  The legislation would allow U.S. companies
immediately to export medium-strength encryption products (64-bit) and
much more powerful products (up to 128-bit) beginning in 2002.  Current
U.S. policy generally limits exports to 56-bit encryption with some
exceptions such as for subsidiaries of U.S. firms and foreign companies
in  banking, insurance, health-care and electronic commerce.  The bill
would also establish a committee of government and private sector
officials that could vote to allow export of stronger products if
similar products are available outside the United States.  The
committee's decisions could be overturned by the President. Unlike the
SAFE bill in the House, the PROTECT Act does not include criminal
penalties for the use of encryption in furtherance of a crime.

Additional information on encryption policy is available at the
Internet Privacy Coalition website:


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----- End forwarded message -----