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3 December 1998. Add Dept of Commerce press release

Date: Thu, 3 Dec 1998 12:32:38 -0800 (PST)
From: Xena - Warrior Princess <>
Message-Id: <>

Thursday, 3 December 1998 12:57:40

U.S. claims success in curbing encryption trade

Aaron Pressman, Reuters, Washington newsroom, 202-898-8312

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Clinton administration officials
Thursday said they had persuaded other leading countries to
impose strict new export controls on computer
data-scrambling products under the guise of arms control.

At a meeting Thursday in Vienna, the 33 nations that have
signed the Wassenaar Arrangement limiting arms exports --
including Japan, Germany and Britain -- agreed to impose
controls on the most powerful data-scrambling technologies,
including for the first time mass-market software, U.S.
special envoy for cryptography David Aaron told Reuters.

The United States, which restricts exports of a wide range of
data-scrambling products and software -- also known as
encryption -- has long sought without success to persuade
other countries to impose similar restrictions.

``We think this is very important in terms of bringing a level
playing field for our exporters,'' Aaron said.

Leading U.S. high-technology companies, including Microsoft
Corp. and Intel Corp., have complained that the lack of
restrictions in other countries hampered their ability to
compete abroad. The industry has sought to have U.S.
restrictions relaxed or repealed, but has not asked for tighter
controls in other countries.

Privacy advocates have also staunchly opposed U.S. export
controls on encryption, arguing that data-scrambling
technologies provided a crucial means of protecting privacy in
the digital age.

``It's ironic, but the U.S. government is leading the charge
internationally to restrict personal privacy and individual
liberty around the world,'' said Alan Davidson, staff counsel at
the Center for Democracy and Technology, a Washington-based
advocacy group.

Special envoy Aaron said the Wassenaar countries agreed to
continue export controls on powerful encryption products in
general but decided to end an exemption for widely available
software containing such capabilities.

``They plugged a loophole,'' Aaron said.

The new policy also reduced reporting and paperwork
requirements and specifically excluded from export controls
products that used encryption to protect intellectual property
-- such as movies or recordings sent over the Internet -- from
illegal copying, Aaron said.

Encryption uses mathematical formulas to scramble
information and render it unreadable without a password or
software ``key.'' One important measure of the strength of the
encryption is the length of the software key, measured in bits,
the ones and zeros that make up the smallest unit of computer

With the increasing speed and falling prices of computers,
data encrypted with a key 40 bits long that was considered
highly secure several years ago can now be cracked in a few
hours. Cutting-edge electronic commerce and communications
programs typically use 128-bit or longer keys.

Under Thursday's agreement, Wassenaar countries would
restrict exports of general encryption products using more
than 56-bit keys and mass-market products with keys more
than 64 bits long, Aaron said.

Each country must now draft its own rules to implement the

Date: Thu, 3 Dec 1998 15:58:34 -0500 To: From: Kathleen Ellis <> Subject: Commerce Press release on Wassenaar "adjustment" This really is _really_ bad.  Finland, Canada, Ireland..all member countries of this arrangement, had previously liberalized their encryption export policies.  UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF Commerce News International Trade Administration Washington, DC For Immediate Release Tuesday, December 3, 1998 Contact: Maria Harris Tildon   (202)482-3809   Sue Hofer   (202)482-2721 P R E S S  S T A T E M E N T U.S. Applauds Agreement on Encryption in International Export Control Regime Vienna, Austria -- The United States welcomed the decision taken Thursday in Vienna by the 33 members of the Wassenaar Arrangement to modernize and improve multilateral encryption export controls. Ambassador David Aaron, the President's Special Envoy for Cryptology, said that "the international agreement reached here goes a long way toward leveling the playing field for exporters and promoting electornic commerce.  It provides countries with a stronger regulatory framework to protect national security and public safety." The agreement caps a two year effort by the United States, to update international encryption export controls and to balance commercial and privacy interests with national security and public safety concerns. Thursday's agreement simplifies and streamlines controls on many encryption items and eliminates multilateral reporting requirements. Specific improvements to multilateral encryption controls include removing controls on all encryption products at or below 56 bit and certain consumer entertainment TV systems, such as DVD products, and on cordless telephone systems designed for home or office use. Wassenaar members also agreed to extend controls to mass-market encryption above 64 bits, thus closing a significant loophole in multilateral encryption controls.  This gives Wassenaar member governments the legal authority to license many mass market encryption software exports which were previously not covered by multilateral controls and enables governments to review the dissemination of the strongest encryption products that might fall into the hands of rogue end users.   The new controls also extend liberalized mass-market hardware below 64 bits.  Until today, only mass-market software products enjoyed this liberalized treatment. "The decisions taken here in Vienna reinforce the Administration's efforts to promote a balanced encryption policy," Aaron confirmed. ### Kathleen Ellis Admin. Dir., Electronic Privacy Information Center      Voice Mail:  (202)298-0833 Keep up with the latest encryption news and events: PGP 5.0 Key ID 9bf725b4  65FF B997 62B8 C396 A527 2D6A 4901 F701 9BF7 25B4