22 March 1998
Date: Sat, 21 Mar 1998 12:50:59 -0500 From: Stewart Baker <email@example.com> To: ukcrypto <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: Re: FBI Changes Tack? The FBI has not changed its goals. It has changed tactics after concluding that it is unlikely to get the kind of legislation it wants this year from this Congress. So it has agreed that it will not seek legislation -- that it could not get this year anyway -- and will instead engage in a dialogue with industry for the next two months. What I find significant about Bob Litt's testimony is that the Justice Department seems to be setting the stage for supporting Louis Freeh's call for domestic controls on encryption. That won't happen unless the dialogue fails (still the most likely outcome), but in the long run it could widen the rift within the Administration over domestic controls. Apart from the FBI's conclusion that its legislative proposal is in trouble, none of this is particularly good news for industry. Stewart ______________________________ Reply Separator _________________________________ Subject: Re: FBI Changes Tack? Author: <email@example.com > at INTERNET Date: 3/20/98 10:05 PM Chris Sundt <firstname.lastname@example.org> writes: > [a big blob of uuencoded and-then-some encoded mail] here is what he said when you unpick that: -Adam ====================================================================== Date: Sat, 21 Mar 98 00:00:17 +0000 Original-Encoded-Information-Types: Undefined Content-Identifier: 12208 From: "C Sundt" <email@example.com> To: UKcrypto@maillist.ox.ac.uk Importance: normal Subject: FBI Changes Tack? Mime-Version: 1.0 The following Reuters piece was passed to me by a journalist who called me to ask if it could have any impact on the UK position - I said that was a tough one t o answer as I didn't know what the UK position was! However, it does appear to s how the FBI changing tack. Chris Sundt All opinions are my own and do not represent in any way those of the company I work for. Tuesday March 17, 9:16 pm Eastern Time FBI changes tactics in U.S. encryption debate By Aaron Pressman WASHINGTON, March 17 (Reuters) - The FBI on Tuesday backed away from controversial legislation requiring data scrambling products sold in the United States to allow law enforcers secretly to crack any coded message. But instead of new laws, the bureau hopes voluntary concessions by manufacturers of encryption technology will give it the same capabilities, officials said. The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Clinton administration have long been at odds with high-tech companies, civil libertarians and Internet users over regulation of encryption, an increasingly critical means of securing electronic commerce and communications over the Internet. Encryption products use mathematical formulas to scramble information, such as a credit card number or e-mail message sent over the Internet, and render itunreadable without a password or software ``key.'' The FBI fears the proliferation of strong encryption will give criminals a powerful tool to thwart its investigations, according to Barry Smith, supervisory special agent in the FBI's Congressional affairs office. Although FBI director Louis Freeh last year favored new laws to guarantee access to coded messages, Smith said the bureau is now backing Vice President Al Gore's renewed dialogue with industry to find a mutually acceptable approach. ``Law enforcement is concerned that we have the technical capability under strict legal procedures to gain access to the plain text of criminally related communications or electronically stored data,'' Smith said in a telephone interview. ``If industry provides us those technical solutions to address our public safety needs in the area encrypted communications and encrypted stored data, that's fine,'' he added. ``Then there's really no need for a legislative solution.'' But Smith added that if Congress considers legislation moving in the other direction, the FBI might renew its lobbying campaign. A bill authored by Virginia Republican Rep. Bob Goodlatte would dramatically ease strict export limits on encryption while forbidding certain types of mandatory law enforcement access. The bill was approved in vari ous versions by five House committees last year and and could be voted on by the full House in a few months. ``If legislative action continues to move forward that threatens public safety and national security, obviously everyone will have to reassess where we are,'' Smith said. Industry officials said the renewed dialogue was unlikely to resolve the historic split over encryption in the high-tech industry between software and hardware companies. Hardware companies including IBM Corp (IBM - news) and Hewlett-Packard (HWP - news) have worked closely with the administration while software firms like Microsoft (MSFT - news) and Netscape Communications (NSCP - news) have opposed the administration. ``IBM has advocated a dialogue for some time between government and industry,'' IBM public policy director Aaron Cross said. Commercial solutions might be available to meet the needs both of customers and law enforcement, Cross said. Cross also urged the administration to ``take the idea of any form of domestic control off the table once and for all.'' Software firms and privacy advocates worried that the latest negotiations would do little to address their concerns. ``There is nothing new here and the stalemate isn't going to be broken with so many players left out,'' one software lobbyist who declined to be identified said. Earlier on Tuesday, principal associate deputy attorney general Robert Litt told a Senate subcommittee the administration was not seeking legislation to regulate domestic use of encryption. ``We are not looking for any mandatory controls domestically at this time,'' Litt told members of the Judiciary Committee's Constitution, Federalism and Property Rights Subcommittee. But Litt staked out the FBI's position that such legislation would be permitted by the U.S. Constitution. Two top legal scholars, Kathleen Sullivan of Stanford University and Richard Epstein of the University of Chicago, opposed Litt's interpretation. They told lawmakers legislation backed by the FBI would likely violate the First Amendment's free speech clause, the Fourth Amendment's search and seizure provisions and the Fifth Amendment's limit on self-incrimination.
See more of Robert Litt's testimony at: http://jya.com/doj031798.htm And another news report: http://jya.com/doj031898.htm