1996-03-07 - Good news for Canadians, I think…

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From: Martin Janzen <janzen@idacom.hp.com>
To: cypherpunks@toad.com
Message Hash: ea7b1e6676faa4d2d6c79b41add07470a2fbd80dc49e5568840615f92c083f5d
Message ID: <9603071822.AA07880@sabel.idacom.hp.com>
Reply To: N/A
UTC Datetime: 1996-03-07 19:14:24 UTC
Raw Date: Thu, 7 Mar 96 11:14:24 PST

Raw message

From: Martin Janzen <janzen@idacom.hp.com>
Date: Thu, 7 Mar 96 11:14:24 PST
To: cypherpunks@toad.com
Subject: Good news for Canadians, I think...
Message-ID: <9603071822.AA07880@sabel.idacom.hp.com>
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain

On the mailing list for the "Electronic Frontier Canada" (similar to, but
not a part of EFF), David Jones (djones@insight.dcss.McMaster.CA) writes:
>      Feds want encryption; Police opposition ignored.
>The federal government wants its employees, and Canadians in general,
>to use strong, public-key encryption.  Yes, the same encryption methods
>that American law enforcement is so uptight about.  The same encryption
>that Canadian cops want to avoid, so they can continue to eavesdrop.
>It's summarized in a recent Ottawa Citizen article:
>        gopher://insight.mcmaster.ca/00/org/efc/media/citizen.13feb96
>You may recall the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police (CACP)
>have voiced their opposition to any encryption of communications unless
>police had access to a "backdoor" last summer.
>        gopher://insight.mcmaster.ca/00/org/efc/law/cacp.24aug95
>In Canada, it looks like the right to privacy of telecommunications
>might take precedence over the police interest in snooping to catch

I won't repost the entire article here, but here are some highlights:

  - The system is initially intended to secure email between federal
    government employees.  Deployment is expected to begin next year.

  - Key management is decentralized; each department hands out its own keys.

  - Top-secret messages will be encoded using "palm-sized computer cards"
    (presumably some kind of PCMCIA device).

  - The Communications Security Establishment (~= NSA) helped to design
    the system, and claims that it's "more sophisticated than existing
    public versions".

    (This is the part that still worries me a bit, even though EFC's
    David Jones is quoted as saying that he has no concerns.  Will the
    algorithms be published?  Also, why develop a new, untested system --
    why not just buy the thing from RSA, Viacrypt, etc.?  Stay tuned...)

  - There's a great quote from Bob Little, deputy secretary of financial
    and information management for the Treasury Board:  "[The CSE] don't
    have access to the keys . . . and never will.  We did it to avoid
    the American experience with the Clipper Chip."

  - The RCMP (~= FBI) is not amused.

All in all, it sounds like a positive development for once.

Martin Janzen           janzen@idacom.hp.com