In case the proponents of domestic controls on encryption were in any doubt that the entire US software industry opposes such controls, a letter signed by just about anyone who is anyone has been sent to the chair of the House of Representatives committee currently considering the proposal. IBM Corp, Microsoft Corp and five of […]
In case the proponents of domestic controls on encryption were in any doubt that the entire US software industry opposes such controls, a letter signed by just about anyone who is anyone has been sent to the chair of the House of Representatives committee currently considering the proposal. IBM Corp, Microsoft Corp and five of the Regional Bell Operating Companies (RBCOS) are among those adding their weight to calls to stop a proposal that would give US law enforcement officials access to encrypted messages both domestically and internationally. The law at the moment requires software containing encryption keys greater than 56 bits in length to have a special export license. Any length less than that does not need a license, nor is one required for domestic use. The export license requires the software vendors to have a key recovery plan in place so that law enforcement officials can get their hands on the encrypted data and read it. The groups of 63 software companies, telcos and civil liberties groups, led by the Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT) sent a joint letter to Representative Thomas Bliley, Republican of Virginia who is chairman of the House Commerce Committee. The Committee is considering amendments to a proposed bill to lift all restrictions on the level of encryption employed, whether at home or for export. That bill, the Security and Freedom through Encryption Act (SAFE), was proposed by another Virginian republican, Bob Goodlatte. Since then various amendments have been attached to the bill and a similar amendment to the one facing the Commerce Committee was recently passed by the House Select Intelligence Committee, which was based on comments made to a Senate hearing by FBI director Louis Freeh, whose Draconian ideas are in danger of becoming law. Other signatories to the letter include America Online Inc, Apple Computer Inc, Compaq Computer Corp, Electronic Data Systems Corp, Information technology Association of America, Novell Inc, Netscape Communications Corp, Software Publishers Association, Sun Microsystems Inc, encryption veteran Trusted Information Systems Inc and the US Chamber of Commerce.