Förderverein Informationstechnik und Gesellschaft

USA: Janet Reno on Crypto

7 February 1999 Source:

Jump to comments on encryption.

Statement of Janet Reno Attorney General of the United States Before the United States Senate Committee on Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, and State the Judiciary, and Related Agencies February 4, 1999


I am pleased to appear before you today to continue the dialogue between the Department of Justice and the Committee on our efforts to combat terrorism. At the outset, I would like to thank the Chairman for his leadership and express my appreciation to the Subcommittee for your interest and support in counter- terrorism matters.


C. Encryption

Court-authorized electronic surveillance (wiretaps) and search and seizure are two of the most critically important investigative techniques used by law enforcement to prosecute crime including terrorism. The growing use of strong, commercially-available, non-recoverable encryption will significantly impair our ability to effectively use wiretaps and conduct searches and seizures.

Encryption is extremely beneficial when used legitimately by individuals and corporations to protect the privacy and confidentiality of voice and data communications and sensitive electronically stored information (computer files). In order to provide individuals and corporations with greater privacy protections as the world moves into the information age, both industry and government are encouraging the use of strong encryption. But the use of strong encryption by criminals and terrorists poses a significant risk to public safety and national security.

Law enforcement has steadfastly expressed its concern about the adoption of an encryption policy based solely on market forces. Law enforcement, including the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the National Sheriff's Association, the National District Attorneys Association, the National Association of Attorney Generals and the Major City Chiefs, continues to call for the adoption of a balanced encryption policy -- one that meets the commercial needs of industry as well as the needs of the public for effective law enforcement.

The Administration is not currently seeking mandatory controls on encryption, but instead is working with industry to find voluntary solutions that meet privacy, electronic commerce and public safety needs. We remain optimistic that such a voluntary approach will be successful in addressing our public safety needs.