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EFFector - Volume 1, Issue 7 - Senate Anti-Encryption Bill Withdrawn

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      Volume 1                                             Issue:1.07
      Friday                                             June 7, 1991

                    SENATE ANTI-ENCRYPTION BILL WITHDRAWN
            WILL BE REPLACED BY A NEW OMNIBUS CRIME BILL -- S.1241
          SENSE OF CONGRESS LANGUAGE RESTRICTING ENCRYPTION REMOVED


    When Senate Bill 266 was proposed, some of its provisions would have
restricted the rights of individuals to secure online communications
through the use of encryption programs. The specific language was:

           "It is the sense of Congress that providers of
           electronic communications services and manufacturers
           of electronic communications service equipment shall
           ensure that communications systems permit the
           government to obtain the plain text contents of voice,
           data, and other communications when appropriately
           authorized by law."

    Let stand, this language would have a chilling effect on encryption.
It would inevitably compromise individual privacy in telecommunications.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation and several other groups determined
to oppose this provision.

    In the last issue of EFFector Online, we reported we would register
our opposition to this clause. In this case, Senator Patrick Leahy (D.
Vermont), who chairs the sub-committee on Technology and the Law --a
sub-set of the Senate Judiciary Committee-- was the key to this issue.

    This week the EFF met with Leahy's staff to present our reasons for
the removal of the language dealing with encryption. Today, we were
informed that the encryption clause has been eliminated from the new
crime bill which replaced the bill originally known as S.266. In
addition, Leahy's sub-committee on Technology and the Law has undertaken
to study the issues of encryption and telecommunications technology.

    To continue this dialogue, Computer Professionals for Social
Responsibility, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and RSA will be
holding an invitational workshop on privacy and encryption in Washington
later this month.  Following the workshop, a press conference will be
held to announce a set of policy recommendations on cryptography.

   The conference will take place on Monday at 2:00 at the National
Press Club (14th & Pennsylvania Avenue N.W.).  All interested parties
are invited to attend.

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