Note: The following document on the Clinton Administration's Cryptography
Policy is being circulated by Americans for Tax Reform to conservative organizations
on Capitol Hill.
Background on Administration Cryptography Policy
THE LATEST CLINTON POWER GRAB. Quietly, almost covertly, the Clinton
Administration is pursuing what may be its single worst policy initiative
ever. The issue is encryption. Specifically, the Administration would:
- Force Americans to keep "keys" with government which government
can then use to intercept electronic communications without a search
warrant, court order, or notice to the person being monitored
- Negotiate international key-sharing agreements that would allow
foreign governments to access U.S. keys without a search warrant, court
order, or notice
- Allow foreign governments to require that U.S. companies and
citizens keep keys on file directly with them
- For now, limit Americans to encryption that can be broken in .005
second or less by a government computer.
THIS IS NOT AN INTERNET ISSUE. Fundamental Constitutional liberties
and limits on government power are at stake. Clinton Administration
cryptography policy deliberately opens the door to government surveillance
of all electronic communications and all electronic transactions when there
is no longer a clear distinction between the Internet and other networks.
- A major potential problem is routine monitoring of all electronic
transactions for "tax compliance" reasons just as France and Russia
now routinely monitor Internet communications for use of forbidden encryption
technologies. As Steve Forbes has observed of the Internet, when the government
can "see" everything that happens on public networks, it is going
to tax and regulate everything too.
- The outlines of a regulatory superstate are emerging elsewhere
in programs already underway to create federal databases on personal health
histories, education, vocational training, and other areas raising privacy
concerns. There are serious problems already in the governments ability
to manage sensitive taxpayer information. These databases plus electronic
surveillance capabilities are truly threatening.
- Excessive controls on encryption will compromise the safety and
security of critical national Infrastructures such as the banking
system, electric power grid, air traffic control system, according to last
year's National Research Council report.
- Social engineering plus ham-handed industrial policy needlessly compromise
U.S. global technological leadership. But above all, the First and
Fourth Amendment rights of U.S. citizens should be non-negotiable.
THE TIME TO ACT IS NOW. The Administration is circulating a bill
in the House and Senate that fortunately to date have not been sponsored
by a single member. The Administration bill must be rejected
Americans for Tax Reform strongly supports legislation such as the
Burns Pro-CODE in the Senate and the Goodlatte SAFE Act In the House.
Others who have expressed support include Steve Forbes, Eagle Forum,
Competitive Enterprise Institute and Frontiers of Freedom. A coalition letter
All conservative groups must a) Insist that Congress establish cryptography
policy in open debate, b) Reject regulatory attempts to end-run Congressional
oversight; and c) Insist the U.S. postpone international agreements until
domestic policy is set.
For more information please call Jim Lucier of Americans for Tax Reform
at (202)785-0266 or email [email protected]
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