24 June 1997
Source: Mail list cypherpunks@toad.com

To: cypherpunks@toad.com
Date: Tue, 24 Jun 1997 21:30:24 -0400
From: Declan McCullagh <declan@well.com>
Subject: SAFE clears House subcommittee, with amendments


[Since I showed up late today and missed some of the early discussion, I
asked my friend Amy for permission to pass along her report. She graciously
agreed. --Declan]


SAFE Act Nears Home in House After Subcommittee
Tosses It Out Favorably

By Amy Branson
LEGI-SLATE News Service

WASHINGTON (June 24) -- Casting the only opposing vote to
H.R. 695 -- the "Security and Freedom Through Encryption
Act" -- Rep. Doug Bereuter, R-Neb., knew his position was
the lonely one at a subcommittee markup Tuesday.

"The goal must be to balance between the competitiveness
of U.S. companies and U.S. national security goals,"
Bereuter began. "However, this bill fails that balance
because it significantly relaxes U.S. export control of
encryption without requiring a key recovery policy ... to
those exports."

Despite Bereuter's problems with the bill, the House
International Relations Subcommittee on International
Economic Policy and Trade passed H.R. 695 by a recorded
vote of 14 yeas and 1 nay [Vote 1].

H.R. 695 lifts export restrictions on many kinds of
strong encryption products, prohibits federal or state
governments from requiring anyone to give up the key to
their encrypted communications, and establishes criminal
penalties for using encryption to further a criminal

"This is a vitally important piece of legislation if
we're going to continue to promote the United States
dominance of the software industry worldwide," the bill's
sponsor, Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., said Tuesday
afternoon. Goodlatte, who does not sit on the
International Relations Committee, spoke on behalf of his
bill at the markup session.

"This legislation is also very important from the
standpoint of promoting the safety and security of
American citizens and others in the use of the Internet,"
he added.

Subcommittee members also adopted by voice vote an "en
bloc amendment" that made what they described as mostly
"technical" changes to the bill.

Subcommittee aides emphasized that the purpose of the
amendment language was to close loopholes and fix
unintended omissions contained in the underlying

For example, the amendment expands the kinds of products
that do not have to have a validated license for export
or re-export to include "any consumer product
commercially available in the U.S. or abroad using
encryption capabilities which are inaccessible to the end
user and is not designed for military or intelligence end

The amendment also expands the term "generally available"
as it is used in the bill to include hardware with
encryption capabilities. As the bill now is written, only
software with encryption capabilities is covered.

Also, the en bloc amendment added a "Sense of Congress"
section to the end of the bill.

In addition to "finding" that the president "has not been
able to come to agreement with other encryption producing
countries on export controls on encryption," the
amendment suggests the president immediately should call
an international conference to reach a policy agreement
with other encryption exporting countries.

Administration officials disapprove of this language
because they say they are "close" to reaching an
encryption export policy agreement with these countries,
one House aide said. But the administration has been
making this claim for several years, the aide said.

This legislation already has been reported favorably by
the House Judiciary Committee, which did not have
jurisdiction over the export language. The International
Relations subcommittee, however, had jurisdiction over
the most controversial parts of the bill: the export

The bill still faces a markup in the full International
Relations Committee where there likely will be another
technical amendment, the aide said.

Meanwhile, the Senate Commerce Committee recently adopted
a so-called "compromise" encryption bill [S.909] that satisfies
Clinton administration concerns about the availability of
strong encryption technology overseas.

But industry officials decry the legislation, sponsored
by Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John McCain,
R-Ariz., and Sen. Robert Kerrey, D-Neb.

Senate legislation [S.377] that more closely resembles
Goodlatte's SAFE Act has been put on the back burner
because of Clinton administration objections. Sen. Conrad
Burns, R-Mont., is sponsoring that bill, which also is
known as Pro-CODE, or Promotion of Commerce Online in the
Digital Era Act of 1997.



Declan McCullagh
Time Inc.
The Netly News Network
Washington Correspondent