Washington, DC — December 30, 1998) The following statement was issued today by Ed Gillespie, Executive Director of Americans for Computer Privacy (ACP) in response to the Clinton Administration’s release of draft regulations relating to encryption technology:

At first glance, ACP considers today’s action a crucial first step toward a well-balanced export policy. We and our Congressional allies have strongly advocated the need for a relaxation of encryption export regulations to make strong encryption products, that safeguard both commercial data and the privacy rights of individuals, more widely available. We appreciate the efforts of members of the Administration and the 105th Congress to get us to this point.

It appears that the government has incorporated many of our initial recommendations into this updated export policy, including: significant export relief for encryption products that use symmetric algorithms up to and including 56-bits; products that use asymmetric algorithms up to and including 1024-bits; and relief for various sectors of the business community. However, the Administration has yet to allow U.S. encryption manufacturers a level playing field in the global marketplace.

On December 3, the Administration announced an agreement with 32 other nations–the Wassenaar Arrangement–containing certain export controls on encryption. Regrettably, the Administration’s draft regulations impose greater restrictions on American companies than those called for under the arrangement. We believe the Administration should begin the new year by eliminating all controls on encryption software and hardware–including hardware components that use algorithms up to 64-bits, and should eliminate all reporting requirements on higher- level encryption exports. Such actions would make U.S. controls consistent with the revised Wassenaar Arrangement.

In addition, the U.S. government should be mindful that the Wassenaar Arrangement is only as effective as the implementing measures adopted by signatory countries. Some of these nations will almost surely implement requirements with less rigorous standards than those adopted by the United States, allowing the unhindered export of 128-bit mass market encryption products. It must also be noted that the Wassenaar Arrangement includes just 33 countries– and nations such as Israel, South Africa, India and China are not signatories.

ACP believes that it is simply unworkable–and ultimately counterproductive– to attempt to limit the export of high-technology products that are inherently uncontrollable. The Administration itself has argued that the mass-market sale of such products as unencrypted computer chips and software is, by its very nature, uncontrollable. Once an encryption feature is added to such products, the makers and distributors are not able to control their ultimate destinations.

Americans for Computer Privacy looks forward to further discussions with representatives of the Administration, members of Congress, and other interested parties in 1999 as we seek further relief consistent with the Wassenaar Arrangement–and to provide input in the yearly review of the Administration’s update of the encryption export policy.

Americans for Computer Privacy (ACP) is a broad-based coalition that brings together more than 100 companies and 40 associations representing financial services, manufacturing, telecommunications, high-tech and transportation, as well as law enforcement, civil-liberty, pro-family and taxpayer groups. ACP supports pollicies that advance the rights of American citizens to encode information without fear of government intrusion, and advocates the lifting of current export restrictions on U.S.-made encryption.