Time: Sun Jul 13 08:45:47 1997
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Date: Sun, 13 Jul 1997 06:50:29 -0700
To: (Recipient list suppressed)
From: Paul Andrew Mitchell [address in tool bar]
Subject: SLS: Comments Concerning DigitalEra Pro-CODE Act (fwd)

>John Ashcroft wrote:
>>      Dear On-line friend:
>>         I hope the following editorial is of interest to you.  If
>>      you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact my office.
>>                                                 Sincerely,
>>                                                 John Ashcroft
>>                                                 U.S. Senate
>>      Investor's Business Daily
>>      Encryption: Keep Feds' Nose Out Of The Net by U.S. Senator John
>>      Ashcroft
>>      Date: 7/11/97
>>      Edgar Hoover would have loved this. The Clinton administration wants
>>      government to be able to read international computer
>>      communications - financial transactions, personal E-mail and
>>      proprietary information sent abroad - all in the name of national
>>      security.
>>      In a proposal that raises obvious concerns about Americans' privacy,
>>      President Clinton wants to give agencies the keys for decoding all
>>      exported U.S. software and Internet communications.
>>      Such a policy also would tamper with the competitive advantage that
>>      our U.S. software companies currently enjoy in the field of
>>      encryption technology.
>>      Not only would Big Brother be looming over the shoulders of
>>      international cybersurfers, he also threatens to render our
>>      state-of-the-art computer software engineers obsolete and unemployed.
>>      Granted, the Internet could be used to commit crimes, and advanced
>>      encryption could disguise such activity. However, we do not provide
>>      the government with phone jacks outside our homes for unlimited
>>      wiretaps. Why, then, should we grant government the Orwellian
>>      capability to listen at will and in real time to our communications
>>      across the Web?
>>      The protections of the Fourth Amendment are clear. The right to
>>      protection from unlawful searches is an indivisible American value.
>>      The president has proposed that American companies and computer users
>>      supply the government with decryption keys to high-level encryption
>>      programs. Yet European software producers are free to produce computer
>>      encryption codes of all levels of security without providing keys to
>>      any government authority.
>>      Buyers of encryption software value security above all else. They will
>>      ultimately choose airtight encryption programs - not those for which
>>      the U.S. government maintains keys.
>>      In spite of this obvious fact, the president is trying to foist his
>>      rigid policy on the exceptionally fluid and fast-paced computer
>>      industry.  Furthermore, recent developments in decryption technology
>>      cast doubt on the wisdom of any government meddling in this industry.
>>      Two weeks ago, the 56-bit algorithm government standard encryption
>>      code that protects most U.S. electronic financial transactions, from
>>      ATM cards to wire transfers, was broken by a low-powered 90-megahertz
>>      Pentium processor.
>>      In 1977, when this code was first approved by the U.S. government as a
>>      standard, it was deemed unbreakable. And for good reason -
>>      there are 72 quadrillion different combinations in a 56-bit code.
>>      However, with today's technology, these 72 quadrillion different
>>      combinations can each be tried -it's only a matter of time and
>>      determination.
>>      Two days after this encryption code was broken, however, the Senate
>>      Commerce Committee voted, in accordance with administration policy, to
>>      force American software companies to perpetuate this already
>>      compromised 56-bit encryption system.
>>      Meanwhile, 128- bit encryption software from European firms is
>>      available to every Web user. Interestingly, European firms can import
>>      this supersecure encryption technology (originally developed by
>>      Americans) to the U.S., but U.S. companies are forbidden by law from
>>      exporting these same programs to other countries.
>>      So to move forward with the president's policy or the Commerce
>>      Committee's bill would be an act of folly, creating a cadre of
>>      government peeping Toms and causing severe damage to our vibrant
>>      software industries. Government would be caught in a perpetual game of
>>      catch-up with whiz-kid code-breakers and industry advances.
>>      Majority Leader Trent Lott, R-Miss., has signaled his objection to
>>      both proposals. He and I would like to work to bring to the floor a
>>      version of the encryption legislation by Sen. Conrad Burns, R-Mont.
>>      Burns' bill closely resembles the popular House encryption bill
>>      sponsored by Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R- Va. Both measures would not
>>      require sharing of keys with the government.
>>      In essence, these proposals would give U.S. encryption software
>>      manufacturers the freedom to compete on equal footing in the worldwide
>>      marketplace. They would set up a quasi-governmental board for the
>>      industry to decide encryption bit strength based on the current level
>>      of international technology.
>>      U.S. companies are on the front line of online technologies - the
>>      value- added industries of the future.
>>      The best policy for encryption technology is one that can rapidly
>>      to breakthroughs in decoding capability and roll back encryption
>>      as needed. The Burns and Goodlatte proposals would accomplish this. In
>>      contrast, the Clinton administration's unnecessary and invasive
>>      interest in international E-mail is a wholly unhealthy precedent,
>>      especially given this administration's track record on FBI files and
>>      Internal Revenue Service snooping.
>>      Every medium by which people communicate can be exploited by those
>>      with illegal or immoral intentions. Nevertheless, this is no reason to
>>      hand Big Brother the keys to unlock our E-mail diaries, open our ATM
>>      records or translate our international communications.
>>      (C) Copyright 1997 Investors Business Daily,Inc.

Paul Andrew Mitchell                 : Counselor at Law, federal witness
B.A., Political Science, UCLA;  M.S., Public Administration, U.C. Irvine

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