1997-09-10 - Re: House National Security committee guts SAFE, worse than nobill

Header Data

From: Jonah Seiger <jseiger@cdt.org>
To: Declan McCullagh <declan@well.com>
Message Hash: 8f9b2a03ef558365903c5d942609f832da57c36c2e4038dfe53ca91719b94976
Message ID: <v03102801b03c4d8eae63@[]>
Reply To: <v03102807b03ba8918f73@[]>
UTC Datetime: 1997-09-10 15:13:15 UTC
Raw Date: Wed, 10 Sep 1997 23:13:15 +0800

Raw message

From: Jonah Seiger <jseiger@cdt.org>
Date: Wed, 10 Sep 1997 23:13:15 +0800
To: Declan McCullagh <declan@well.com>
Subject: Re: House National Security committee guts SAFE, worse than nobill
In-Reply-To: <v03102807b03ba8918f73@[]>
Message-ID: <v03102801b03c4d8eae63@[]>
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain

At 7:52 PM -0700 9/9/97, Declan McCullagh wrote:
>On Tue, 9 Sep 1997, Jonah Seiger wrote:
>> I am not suggesting that we should relax because the Administration is not
>> completely satisfied with this provision. They scored a hit against SAFE,
>> just like we won one at the Foreign Relations Committee.  Border skirmishes
>> in the larger, ongoing war.
>The war in Congress is essentially over. There is no realistic hope of
>good crypto legislation passing. I'd be interested to hear any
>hypothetical that you'd suggest to the contrary. Keep in mind when
>concocting it that you'd have to get past the Senate -- where pro-crypto
>legislation has been dead for months -- and a presidential veto.

I agree that things look pretty bleak and that the chances for passing good
crypto legislation are not so good at the moment.  And, for the record, CDT
strenuously opposes the amended SAFE bill, S. 909, and the various
proposals coming from the FBI.  We also do not see a way to reconcile these
proposals, and are not working for a "deal" (sorry Seth).

We plan on opposing these bills by vigorously engaging in the process --
being there at every turn to tell the Congress and the Administration why
they are wrong, why key recovery won't work, and why export relief is
necessary to promote privacy and security on the Net in a way that is
constructive and moves the issue forward.

Lets step back for a moment and look at the bigger picture.

We all agree that the status quo is not good for privacy.  The Bernstein
case was important in proving our rhetorical points (and good for
Bernstein), but it didn't topple the current export policy, which we all
know is crippling the widespread availability of strong, easy-to-use crypto.

The Administration WANTS legislation to impose key recovery and wants
continued export restrictions.  It has passed the Senate Commerce
Committee, it's in the current export policy, and the FBI is likely to get
it approved by the Intelligence committee tomorrow.

If they succeed and mandatory key recovery becomes law, there will
certainly be court challenges (and CDT would join that fight), but it won't
be as clear cut as the CDA case was, and it's doubtful we would have the
strength (and the resources) of as broad a coalition of plaintiffs.  We may
be right, but that doesn't guarantee victory.

Eventually, if we want to achieve anything, we will need to change the
current policy.  We do not believe that can be accomplished by simply by
being 'obstructionists'.  We do believe that it can be accomplished by
engaging in the process, letting Congress and the Administration know that
we care about this issue, and are willing to fight for what we believe. We
are not ready to give up just because we took a hit in the National
Security Committee.

Hope that helps clarify.


* Value Your Privacy? The Government Doesn't.  Say 'No' to Key Escrow! *
            Adopt Your Legislator -  http://www.crypto.com/adopt

Jonah Seiger, Communications Director              (v) +1.202.637.9800
Center for Democracy and Technology              pager +1.202.859.2151
                                                    PGP Key via finger