29 June 1998

Date: Mon, 29 Jun 1998 23:04:43 +1000
From: Greg Taylor <gtaylor@gil.com.au>
To: aucrypto@suburbia.net
Subject: EFA Calls for Abolition of Crypto Controls


MEDIA RELEASE                                          30th June 1998


Electronic Frontiers Australia (EFA) today called for the abolition
of all controls on cryptography in Australia.  EFA spokesperson Greg 
Taylor said, "The current export controls are a failure because strong 
cryptography software is already widely available throughout the world.  
Furthermore the regulations are stifling Australian initiatives in 
developing secure communications protocols."

"Far from achieving their purpose of preventing criminal activity, the
restrictions on deployment of strong cryptography increase the risk of
criminal attack on vital infrastructure such as banking and the
electricity supply system.", Mr. Taylor said.

"EFA welcomes the Australian government's recent initiatives in respect 
to Electronic Commerce.  However, these initiatives will come to nothing 
if secure communications cannot be guaranteed.  Business, privacy and
technology interests around the world are unanimous that unless there is 
a relaxation of the cold-war era mentality in relation to encryption 
policy, electronic commerce will never achieve its full potential.  This 
is also a privacy issue, a fraud prevention issue, a jobs issue, and an 
international competitiveness issue."

"The Defence Department, which is responsible for administering export
controls under the terms of the Wassenaar Arrangement, has extended
Australia's compliance with the agreement by encouraging key recovery
"backdoors" in systems proposed for export licensing.  This is despite
extensive international evidence that key recovery systems of the type
proposed by law enforcement agencies are fundamentally unworkable and a 
risk to data security." said Mr. Taylor.

"How would Australian citizens react if they were required to lodge 
copies of their home and office door keys with a government agency, so 
as to enable law enforcement authorities to search their personal files 
without their knowledge? Yet that is a close analogy to current 
Australian policy on encryption software."

The Department of Defence has recently come under fire for threatening to
prosecute a Brisbane-based cryptography development group, who developed
a world-renowned crypto-library and made it available online to 
commercial software developers.  This software has been incorporated into
the leading web-server product used for secure electronic commerce.  It 
is generally acknowledged that the current export regulations, 
administered through the Customs Act, do not apply to software made 
available for downloading on the Internet, and EFA will lobby Labor and 
the Democrats to oppose any moves to amend the Act to ban electronic 

One of the Brisbane development team, Tim Hudson, said, "The crypto-export
restrictions are based on the premise that not only are there no competent
programmers or mathematicians elsewhere in the world, but also that the
Internet does not exist and that no one can read or type.  The source code
behind the majority of modern encryption algorithms is available in almost
every major library in the world."

Mr Taylor continued, "Australia can show the lead by proposing that
cryptography goods be dropped from the terms of the Wassenaar Arrangement,
an international regime to control trade in high-grade munitions.  Federal
Coalition policy opposes heavy-handed attempts to ban strong encryption
techniques, and the other major Federal parties have also supported
relaxation of current controls.  Furthermore, the Prime Minister announced
in March that Australia would adopt the OECD Cryptography guidelines, 
which are regarded as far more acceptable than existing controls.  Despite
these promising statements, Australia persists with a cold-war mentality 
when it comes to actually implementing policy."

"EFA intends to contact every Senator and Member of Parliament to bring 
them up-to-date with this issue.  Despite the importance of crypotgraphy
to Australia's future in the Information Age, the matter has received 
scant attention by the Parliament.  We think it's time that our 
legislators were informed about this critical issue," Mr. Taylor concluded.

Electronic Frontiers Australia is an online privacy advocacy group 
concerned about the growing intrusion of government into people's personal

For further information:

   Greg Taylor - Brisbane   07 3370 6362   E-mail:  gtaylor@efa.org.au
   Kim Heitman - Perth      08 9458 2790   E-mail:  chair@efa.org.au
   Danny Yee   - Sydney     02 9351 5159   E-mail:  danny.yee@efa.org.au

Electronic Frontiers Australia Inc                  http://www.efa.org.au

For background material and references, please see the full release at: