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cfp crypto panel

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Date:          Fri, 9 Apr 1999 20:05:21 -0400
From:          Dave Banisar <>
Subject:       cfp crypto panel
To:            Global Internet Liberty Campaign <>

 WASHINGTON, DC, U.S.A., 1999 APR 8 (Newsbytes) -- By Robert
Newsbytes. Any more major administration changes to US encryption
export control policy are unlikely in 1999, along with any relaxation
measures getting through Congress either. That's the message from Jim
Lewis, the director of the Office of Strategic Trade in the Commerce
Department's Bureau of Export Administration.
   "There will be no dramatic changes this year," Lewis said at the
Computers, Freedom and Privacy 1999 conference, which is on its third
and last day in Washington, D.C.
   Speaking at the panel discussion "Is Escrow Dead? And What Is
Wassenaar?" Lewis and a group of participants mostly at odds with the
Clinton administration over export control policies debated the future
of strong encryption exports from the US, and the overall state of
encryption technology worldwide.
   Encryption controls in Germany and France are now seen as
to those countries' business interests, according to Bruno Jactel, the
French embassy's economic and commercial counselor, and Ulrich Sandl,
the chief of Division Information Security in Germany's Federal
Ministry of Economic Affairs and Technology.
   Lewis, however, said US policy will remain the same for the
foreseeable future, in spite of the SAFE Act in the House of
Representatives and the still-unveiled PROTECT bill from Senate
Commerce Committee Chairman John McCain, R-Ariz.
   The SAFE Act would allow strong encryption exports for mass-market,
or private consumer use. The PROTECT bill would relax export controls
that the US currently maintains, but not as drastically as the SAFE
   As for the Wassenaar Arrangement, a munitions control agreement
signed in December 1998 by 33 countries, Lewis said that Americans
won't notice a difference in their export control regulations, and
that domestic transfer of strong encryption will continue unabated.
   "Wassenaar has come under considerable criticism at this time...
it is very effective at doing what it's intended to do," Lewis said,
outlining the primary functions as continuing the basis of listing
items with military utility, "preventing pariah states... from
acquiring advanced weaponry," and "prevent destabilizing military
   "It's not clear to me where encryption fits into these anymore,"
Lewis admitted, adding that "for the moment we still have encryption
on the list."
   He also noted that Wassenaar is a non-binding agreement, so it
"remains up to each country to decide where they will or will not
permit export of encryption."
   As for key escrow policies, the practice of allowing companies to
export strong encryption as long as a "trusted third party" retains a
key to de-scramble the communications, Lewis said that whether or not
key escrow is dead, "who cares? Law enforcement is alive and well."
   "The Justice Department and the FBI are less interested," he said.
"The goal for them was to preserve their wiretap capabilities. The
nature of networks... is very conducive to achieving this goal. They
did not get everything they originally hoped for, but they have enough
to do what they need to do."
   Sandl said that not only is key escrow no longer a German issue,
that the German government is doing all it can to educate consumers
and companies on how to avail themselves of strong encryption
   Jactel said that "France took the long way on the road to
encryption," noting that total liberalization of French policy only
came about in the executive order issued last month.
   "The Internet is considered by the private sector as well as by
government as a means of ensuring the future economic success of
(French companies)," Jactel said. "A key factor for its development is
consumer confidence."
   Michael Baker of Electronic Frontiers Australia noted that although
Wassenaar has little binding effect on most of its signatories'
encryption policies, the US forced a strong agenda on the other
participants by unilaterally pressing for a 64-bit encryption export
   "In the middle of the meeting, before it had finished, the
announced that they had gotten their own way," Baker said. "I am
doubtful as to (whether) that's really what had happened. I don't
think they got everything they wanted."
   Reported by Newsbytes News Network, . -0-

Copyright 1999
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