10 June 1999
Date: Thu, 10 Jun 1999 08:40:19 +0200 (CEST)
From: Anonymous <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Encryption Products Found to Grow in Foreign Markets
The New York Times, June 10, 1999
By JOHN MARKOFF
Commercial data-scrambling technology that is made outside the United States has become significantly more available in the last 18 months, according to researchers at George Washington University.
The researchers' report, which is to be presented today in testimony before the Senate Commerce Committee, is part of a growing body of evidence suggesting that the Government's efforts to restrict the spread of "strong encryption" technology for secret electronic communications have largely failed.
"The Government must acknowledge that there are foreign products, and it must concede that they are of comparable quality to U.S. technology," said Bruce Heiman, legislative counsel for Americans for Computer Privacy, the Washington-based computer industry lobbying group that financed the study.
The Government has long imposed export restrictions on encryption technologies, invoking national security and crime prevention concerns. Federal officials have argued that scrambled messages would improve the ability of terrorists and other criminals to organize and plan illegal operations.
The new data, though, indicate that 805 encryption products are now available in 35 countries outside the United States -- a 22 percent increase since December 1997.
Moreover, 167 products are based on encryption algorithms considered too strong to be cracked by even the most powerful computers.
"In addition to the absolute increase in the number of products, we've also found that six new countries have companies that are now selling encryption technology," said Lance Hoffman, director of the Cyberspace Policy Institute at George Washington University.
The United States has lost its monopoly on the mathematical technologies underlying data encryption.
He pointed to companies like Cybernetica in Estonia that use the United States export restrictions as a marketing tool.
"Cybernetica advertises: 'Strong crypto. Long keys. No export restrictions,' " he said.
The report also asserts that the United States has lost its monopoly on the basic mathematical technologies underlying data encryption.
For example, of the 15 algorithms now being considered by the National Institute of Standards for a new American encryption standard, 10 have been developed outside the United States.
The report does not offer evidence of actual use of encryption systems abroad. But Mr. Hoffman said researchers had compiled material suggesting that the most powerful encryption software was now readily accessible internationally.
"I'm holding in my hands a computer magazine we found on a French newsstand," he said in a phone interview yesterday. The publication, Magazine Dot Net, included a CD-ROM with encryption programs including Pretty Good Privacy and a program called Scramdisk that includes advanced encryption algorithms like DES, Triple DES, Blowfish and Idea -- any of which would present formidable challenges to code breakers in the Federal Government.