24 March 1999

Date: Wed, 24 Mar 1999 15:59:23 -0500
To: John Young <jya@pipeline.com>
From: Alan Davidson <abd@CDT.ORG>
Subject: Crypto Legislation Passes House Judiciary Committee

CDT's statement on today's Hill crypto action.


The Security and Freedom through Encryption (SAFE) Act (H.R. 850) passed
the House Judiciary Committee today by voice vote without amendment. In a
small but significant victory for privacy online, a controversial amendment
that mandated plaintext access as a condition for export was blocked by
Rep. Goodlatte (R-VA) on jurisdictional grounds. The amendment, proposed by
Rep. McCollum (R-Fl), would have placed serious limitations on SAFE's
liberalization of encryption export controls by requiring "immediate access
to plaintext." Rep. Lofgren (D-CA), a co-author of the bill, compared the
amendment to the Administration's failed "Clipper Chip."

CDT staff counsel Alan Davidson equated the provisions for plaintext access
with "playing the 'name game'. Whether these features are called 'key
escrow', 'key recovery' or 'plaintext access', they still introduce serious
security risks for the end-user." CDT believes that measures for mandatory
plaintext access infringe upon both Fourth Amendment privacy protections
and Fifth Amendment protections against self-incrimination.

Although SAFE passed through the Judiciary Committee with relative ease,
stiffer resistance is expected as the bill is considered by other
Committees.  The bill moves next to the International Relations Committee,
where an intense debate on the foreign availability of encryption products
is expected.

* Background materials on the SAFE bill:


* Proposed McCollum Amendment:


* CDT's testimony in support of SAFE:


Alan Davidson, Staff Counsel                 202.637.9800 (v)
Center for Democracy and Technology          202.637.0968 (f)
1634 Eye St. NW, Suite 1100                  <abd@cdt.org>
Washington, DC 20006                         PGP key via finger