ACP Urges Passage of Safe Act

Washington, DC — (February 25) Representatives of Americans for Computer Privacy (ACP) joined forces today with lawmakers in support of the Security and Freedom through Encryption (SAFE) Act at a Capitol Hill news conference announcing re-introduction of the encryption policy reform legislation. Championed by Representatives Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), the SAFE Act seeks to protect Americans’ right to use the strongest possible encryption, while lifting export restrictions on U.S.-made encryption.

ACP representatives, including: Ed Gillespie, Executive Director; Jack Quinn, ACP Counsel; Randy Lively, President and CEO, American Financial Services; and Jerry Berman, Executive Director, Center for Democracy and Technology spoke out on the need for encryption policy reform.

“Our national interests– including infrastructure protection, law enforcement, national security, robust electronic commerce and privacy– are all best served by continuing to assure the availability of strong U.S.-made encryption,” stated Ed Gillespie. “During the past year ACP has worked closely with Congress and the Administration to bring encryption export policy in line with the realities of today’s global marketplace and we will continue to do so. To date, our efforts have resulted in a new interim rule from the Administration that is a crucial first step, and we are very hopeful about passage of legislation in the 106th Congress.”

“The new interim rule is a step in the right direction, but we need to do more,” stated Jack Quinn. “Foreign competition threatens America’s leadership in this vital technology. Some opponents doubt the claim that strong, high-quality encryption is truly available abroad. My concern is that by the time it becomes clear that foreign-made encryption is widely available, it will be too late to change our policy, and too late to preserve U.S. leadership in this critical arena.”

“Although the Administration’s new policy permits U.S. financial institutions to use strong encryption abroad, it’s limited in scope and very complex — making the regulations difficult to apply,” stated Randy Lively. “The burdensome reporting requirements in the regulations undermine much of the progress that has been made.”

Jerry Berman voiced the concerns of “anyone who cares about privacy on the Internet.” “The SAFE Act is way overdue. We commend its sponsors and will work vigorously to support their efforts.”

Noting that encryption reform enjoys strong bipartisan support, Majority Leader Dick Armey said he supports the SAFE Act, but understands the law enforcement concerns some of his colleagues have expressed. “I believe that somewhere between these legitimate concerns and the need to keep pace with digital commerce in the global economy a bill exists that can pass the House and Senate and President Clinton can sign into law.”

He emphasized the critical importance of encryption to electronic commerce, and our nation’s competitiveness. “Commerce on the Internet has exploded, giving consumers more choices and more convenience,” stated Armey. “The technology that protects privacy is crucial to consumers who buy on the Web. And it is crucial to keeping America on the cutting edge of new technologies and services. Government controls that block innovation in the high-tech industry cost us our competitive advantage and ultimately cost us jobs.”

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 policies 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. To learn more, visit our web site at

Editor’s note: A cybercast of today’s press conference will be available on the ACP web site tomorrow.