PCW: Clinton to Reverse Encryption Prohibition

Dan Tebbutt dant@acp.com.au
Wed, 02 Oct 1996 12:25:24 -0700


URL: http://www.pcweek.com/news/0930/02acrypt.html

 
                                           October 2, 1996 10:45 AM ET 
                                           Clinton administration
                                           reverses encryption policy 
                                           By Maria Seminerio 



                   The Clinton Administration, responding to pressure 
from a wide coalition of IT
                   companies, last night announced it will reverse its 
policy on the export of
                   encryption software, permitting U.S. software 
makers to sell strong 56-bit Data
                   Encryption Standard products overseas.

                   The Administration's plan will allow the export of 
strong encryption software
                   for the next two years, provided that software 
makers agree to submit
                   code-cracking keys to law enforcement officials 
under court orders.

                   The move was hailed by IT giants including IBM, 
which is expected to
                   announce today the formation of an industry 
consortium on a so-called
                   "key-recovery" system.

                   Technology companies had grown increasingly 
frustrated with the export
                   policy, which classified strong encryption as a 
munition. The Clinton
                   Administration had feared that such products would 
fall into criminal hands, but
                   officials said last night's announcement is aimed 
at forging a compromise.

                   "The initiative will support the growth of 
electronic commerce, increase the
                   security of global information, and sustain the 
economic competitiveness of
                   U.S. encryption product manufacturers during the 
transition to a key
                   management infrastructure," said Vice President Al 
Gore in a statement.

                   The proposal is likely to be more palatable to the 
IT industry and security
                   advocates than the Administration's earlier 
proposals, including the "Clipper
                   Chip" plan that would have made the government the 
holder of code-breaking
                   keys.