1996-05-18 - Senator, your public key please?

Header Data

From: Black Unicorn <unicorn@schloss.li>
To: Cypherpunks <cypherpunks@toad.com>
Message Hash: 2e6eba629108cb96442ad1cc574eeb7ae76e12d5dca42ce55f9a3b7a454ba28d
Message ID: <Pine.SUN.3.93.960516113814.751D-100000@polaris.mindport.net>
Reply To: N/A
UTC Datetime: 1996-05-18 11:12:05 UTC
Raw Date: Sat, 18 May 1996 19:12:05 +0800

Raw message

From: Black Unicorn <unicorn@schloss.li>
Date: Sat, 18 May 1996 19:12:05 +0800
To: Cypherpunks <cypherpunks@toad.com>
Subject: Senator, your public key please?
Message-ID: <Pine.SUN.3.93.960516113814.751D-100000@polaris.mindport.net>
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain


I was running around the hill all morning and I thought I would drop in on
Leahy to see what his key signing policies were.  I gave Leahy a buzz to
see if I could catch him in person but unfortunately it's a busy day on
the hill and he sent me off to Beryl Howell instead.

Ms. Howell is Senior Counsel for the minority staff of the Antitrust
Subcommittee and handles all of Leahy's encryption gofering.  I'd dealt
with her on a limited basis once before, and I got a good 10 minutes to
discuss some issues before she had to run off elsewhere.

The issues she brought up were interesting.

Firstly, Leahy wasn't advised to issue a public key, it was entirely his
idea.  No staff suggestion there.

Secondly, the Ethics Committee was very interested in the issue.  As of
now they have ruled that "exchanging" PGP signatures is an "exchange in
kind" and an ethics violation.  Ms. Howell expressed exasperation over
this lunacy, but put it much this way:  "No, you guys don't understand
what the issues are here, but I don't have 3 hours to explain it all to
you either."  Apparently the ethics committee is concerned that a
signature from Leahy's key will constitute some sort of endorsement and the
"you sign mine and I'll sign yours" looks like influence peddling.

Part of the problem was that several politically oriented groups
approached Leahy's office and descended like vultures on a carcass,
all of them wanting to certify his key.  

No signing from Senator's keys for the time being.  She said the ethics
committee went so far as to prohibit them from soliciting signatures from
others as well.  Her conservative (and reasonable) interpretation was that
she couldn't hand over a fingerprint of the key for signing purposes.

As things stand now Ms. Howell intends to try and educate some of the key
Ethics members over the August break and have a decent signing policy
after the break itself.

Welcome to the hill.

Those of you who haven't might want to check out the May 2, 1996 version
of the Promotion of Commerce on-line in the Digital Era (Pro-Code) bill.

Nice choice snippet:  The current strength of encryption the U.S.
government will allow out of the country is so week that, according to a
January 1996 study conducted by world-renowned cryptographers, a
pedestrian hacker can crack the codes in a matter of hours.  A foreign
intelligence agency can crack the current 40-bit codes in seconds.

Also:  "Encryption expert Matt Blaze, in a recent letter to me, noted that
current U.S. regulations governing the use and export of encryption are
having a "deleterious effect... on our country's ability to develop a
reliable and trustworthy information infrastructure."

See: http://www.senate.gov/~leahy/
For some reason http:/www.leahy.senate.gov/ is also listed.

Version: 2.6.2
Comment: Autodocument signed


My preferred and soon to be permanent e-mail address:unicorn@schloss.li
"In fact, had Bancroft not existed,       potestas scientiae in usu est
Franklin might have had to invent him."    in nihilum nil posse reverti
00B9289C28DC0E55  E16D5378B81E1C96 - Finger for Current Key Information
Opp. Counsel: For all your expert testimony needs: jimbell@pacifier.com