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FC: Why did White House change its mind on crypto? Here's an answer...


                     Decoding the Crypto Policy Change
                     by Declan McCullagh (declan@well.com)

                     3:00 a.m.  17.Sep.99.PDT
                     Why did the Clinton administration cave
                     on crypto? What caused the nation's top
                     generals and cops to back down this
                     week after spending the better part of a
                     decade warning Congress of the dangers
                     of privacy-protecting encryption

                     Why would attorney general Janet Reno
                     inexplicably change her mind and embrace
                     overseas sales of encryption when as
                     recently as July she warned Congress of
                     the "rising threat from the criminal
                     community of commercially available

                     It can't simply be that tech firms were
                     pressing forward this fall with a House
                     floor vote to relax export rules. National
                     security and law enforcement backers in
                     the Senate could easily filibuster the
                     measure. Besides, Clinton had threatened
                     to veto it. 

                     It could be the presidential ambitions of
                     Vice President Gore, who just happened
                     to be in Silicon Valley around the time of
                     the White House press conference
                     Thursday. Still, while tech CEOs can get
                     angry over the antediluvian crypto
                     regulations Gore has supported, they
                     regard Y2K liability and Internet taxation
                     as more important issues. 

                     Another answer might lie in a
                     little-noticed section of the legislation the
                     White House has sent to Congress. It
                     says that during civil cases or criminal
                     prosecutions, the Feds can use
                     decrypted evidence in court without
                     revealing how they descrambled it. 


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