13 January 1999
To: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Watch the gov't discuss crypto policy Friday in Cupertino: PECSENC Date: Wed, 13 Jan 1999 02:21:45 -0800 From: John Gilmore <email@example.com> PECSENC is a hard-to-parse acronym for the President's Export Council, Subcommittee on Encryption. The Council is a group of assorted citizens appointed by the President of the US under Executive Order 12991 to advise him on US trade issues. Since crypto policy is so complex and painful, they pushed it into a subcommittee of its own. That subcommittee is meeting this Friday at HP in Cupertino. They usually meet on the East Coast, far from most people affected by the crypto regulations, so I thought it would be friendly of us to show up and welcome them to Silicon Valley. I will be speaking at the meeting about the Wassenaar Arrangement, but that isn't why you should come. You should come because this is one of the few public fora in which government and selected citizens actually discuss crypto policy. Officially, and to advise the President. They faxed me 6 pages of maps and directions, but it all boils down to: Take I-280 to Cupertino, exit on Wolfe Road going north/east, turn right at the second light on Pruneridge Ave, turn left at the first light into the HP complex, go 200 feet and turn right at the "T" intersection, and follow to the last building on the left, Building 46. Park in the visitor lot in front, register at the reception desk and get a badge. The room can hold about 60 people (of which about 30 will be PECSENC and invited speakers.) There won't be an opportunity to rant, like there was a few years ago when the National Research Council invited public comments at the CFP conference. (Perhaps they'll set one up for a future meeting -- I think it would be informative for them.) But it's a chance to see the alice-in-wonderland workings of the government as they try to manipulate a supposedly independent advisory group into overlooking the emperor's nudity. We may get a chance to make a few short, polite comments, though they've arranged the agenda so the public gets to comment *before* the government or the subcommittee says anything worth commenting about. Some of the people on the subcommittee should be well known to cypherpunks: Stewart Baker, lawyer, ex-General Counsel of NSA, GAK cheerleader Kevin McCurley, cryptographer, IBM Research, President of IACR (IACR was established by Diffie, Chaum, Rivest, etc in the '70s to protect and foster crypto research -- www.iacr.org) Esther Dyson, business philosopher & author, EFF, ICANN Interim Chair John Liebman, lawyer, author of major export control law tome (I'm leaving out ten or twenty people, mostly because the list isn't published anywhere online that I can find) [See http://220.127.116.11/PresidentsExportCouncil/PECSENC/pecsenc1.htm ] As part of their role in "supporting" the subcommittee's work, the government has published the driest and least fun-looking "Notice of Open Meeting" that the law will let them get away with: http://www.bxa.doc.gov/tacs/PECSENCMtg.html However there is a juicier agenda which I received as a speaker: We have revised the schedule in light of certain timing constraints. So, please note that the private sector discussion of Wassenaar will take place in the afternoon. In addition to John Gilmore, PECSENC member Ira Rubenstein will address this topic. (Lynn McNulty of RSA has been asked to offer remarks on RSA's experiences, too.) Also, Whit Diffie will let us know shortly whether he will speak before the group. Here is the updated agenda: President's Export Council Subcommittee on Encryption January 15, 1998 Pacific Ocean Room, Bldg. 46 19447 Pruneridge Avenue Cupertino, California 95014 9:00 Opening Comments/ Stewart Baker, Acting PECSENC Chairman Discussion of List Server/ PECSENC's Role 9:45 Public Comments 10:00 BXA Update William A. Reinsch Under Secretary for Export Administration 10:30 Congressional Presentation Representative Zoe Lofgren 11:00 Briefings The Wassenaar Arrangement and Ambassador Aaron's Initiatives James A. Lewis, Director Office of Strategic Trade and Foreign Policy Controls Bureau of Export Administration (BXA) Michelle O'Neill Executive Director to Ambassador David Aaron International Trade Administration (ITA) 12:00 Lunch for Members 1:15 Briefings Private Sector Perspective on the Wassenaar Arrangement John Gilmore, Co-Founder, EFF Ira Rubenstein, Senior Corporate Attorney, Microsoft 2:00 Foreign Availability of Encryption Technology Kevin McCurley, Ph.D., IBM 2:30 What's New In Commercial Crypto Dr. Taher Elgamal, CEO, Securify, Inc. Dr. John Atalla, Chairman, Tristrata, Inc. 4:00 Adjourn I encourage anyone from the Bay Area crypto community who cares about export controls on crypto to come observe the meeting, and participate in the discussions in the hallways. Like attending hearings of the Bernstein case, open your costume box and pull out the business drag (suits & whatever businesswomen enjoy wearing these days). Our role will be less to inform the meeting of anything in particular, and more to inform them by our quiet presence that lots of significant people care to watch exactly what they're doing with our civil rights. After watching how it operates and thinking for a bit, you might have some informed suggestions for the subcommittee, which can be sent to them by email. As Thomas Pynchon said, "If they can get you to ask the wrong questions, they don't have to worry about the answers." The Commerce Dept may have been all too successful at getting the subcommittee to focus on the wrong questions. (E.g. before the DES Cracker announcement, they were debating whether to ask the President to decontrol DES -- a useless and counterproductive action which of course the government has just done.) Just as the cypherpunks came up with some great questions to inform the Clipper debate, I'm sure we can come up with some meaty questions for the subcommittee to chew on, rather than the pap the gov't feeds them. If you have any further questions about PECSENC or the meeting, please contact: Jason Gomberg Encryption Policy Controls Division Bureau of Export Administration +1 202 482 1368 <JGOMBERG@bxa.doc.gov> I hope to see you-all there. John Gilmore, Electronic Frontier Foundation PS: Also, don't forget the cypherpunks meeting the following day, in rooms B1-B2 of the San Jose Convention Center, noon-6PM, Saturday 16Jan99.