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Podcast Episode: Chronicling Online Communities

EFFector - Volume 7, Issue 4 - Digital Telephony - FBI "Wiretap Bill" Resurrected


EFFector - Volume 7, Issue 4 - Digital Telephony - FBI "Wiretap Bill" Resurrected

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EFFector Online Volume 07 No. 04      Feb. 24, 1994
A Publication of the Electronic Frontier Foundation        ISSN 1062-9424

In This Issue:

Digital Telephony - FBI "Wiretap Bill" Resurrected
EFF Statement on FBI Draft Digital Telephony Bill
NIST Press Release on Clipper Decisions
FCC ftp site now online
Nat'l Symposium on Arts & Humanities Policies for NII
What YOU Can Do


Subject: Digital Telephony - FBI "Wiretap Bill" Resurrected

The Clinton Administration is backing a proposal by law enforcement
agencies that could make the entire communications infrastructure
susceptible to surveillance.  The Digital Telephony Proposal, reintroduced
this year after being successfully thwarted last year, would require
communications service providers to include "back doors" in their software
through which "wiretapping" can be done.  In addition, the proposal would
give law enforcement officers access to records *about* communications,
such as who you call and how long you talk.  Such traffic analysis can 
can reveal vast amounts of information about you.  EFF is extremely
concerned about this proposal and has prepared the following summary to
explain it and the harm it could do.  More on what *you* can do to fight
the Digital Telephony Proposal will be coming soon.


Subject: EFF Statement on FBI Draft Digital Telephony Bill

EFF has received a draft of the FBI's new, proposed "Digital Telephony"
bill.  After initial analysis, we strongly condemn the bill, which would
require all common carriers to construct their networks to deliver to law
enforcement agencies, in real-time, both the contents of all communications
on their networks and the "signalling" or transactional information.  

In short, the bill lays the groundwork for turning the National Information
Infrastructure into a nation-wide surveillance system, to be used by law
enforcement with few technical or legal safeguards.  This image is not
hyperbole, but a real assessment of the power of the technology and 
inadequacy of current legal and technical privacy protections for users of
communications networks.

Although the FBI suggests that the bill is primarily designed to maintain
status quo wiretap capability in the face of technological changes, in
fact, it seeks vast new surveillance and monitoring tools.  Among the new
powers given to law enforcement are:

1. Real-time access to transactional information creates the ability to
monitor individuals "live".

The bill would require common carrier networks (telephone companies
and anyone who plans to get into the telephone business, such as cable TV
companies) to deliver, in real-time, "call setup information."  In the
simplest case, call setup information is a list of phone numbers
dialed by a given telephone currently under surveillance.  As we all come
to use electronic communications for more and more purposes, however, this
simple call setup information could also reveal what movies we've ordered,
which online information services we've connected to, which political
bulletin boards we've dialed, etc. With increasing use of
telecommunications, this simple transactional information reveals almost as
much about our private lives as would be learned if someone literally
followed us around on the street, watching our every move.

We are all especially vulnerable to this kind of surveillance, because,
unlike wiretapping the *content* of our communications, it is quite easy
for law enforcement to get permission to obtain this transactional
information.  Whereas courts scrutinize wiretap requests very carefully,
authorizations for access to call setup information are routinely granted
with no substantive review.  Some federal agencies, such as the IRS, even
have the power to issue administrative subpoenas on their own, without
appearing before a court.  

The real impact of the FBI proposal turns, in part, on the fact that it is
easy to obtain court approval for seizing transactional data.

The change from existing law contained in the FBI proposal is that carriers
would have to deliver this call setup information *in real-time*, that is,
"live", as the communication occurs,  directly to a remote listening post
designated by law enforcement.  Today, the government can obtain this
information, but generally has to install a device (called a 'pen
register') which is monitored manually at the telephone company switching

2. Access to communication and signalling information for any mobile
communication, regardless of location allows tracking of an individual's

The bill requires that carriers be able to deliver either the contents or
transactional information associated with any subscriber, even if that
person is moving around from place to place with a cellular or PCS phone. 
It is conceivable that law enforcement could use the signalling information
to identify that location of a target, whether that person is the subject
of a wiretap order, or merely a subpoena for call setup information.

This provision takes a major step beyond current law in that it allows for
a tap and/or trace on a *person*, as opposed to mere surveillance of a
telephone line.

3. Expanded access to electronic communications services, such as the
Internet, online information services, and BBSs.

The privacy of electronic communications services such as electronic mail
is also put at grave risk.  Today, a court order is required under the
Electronic Communications Privacy Act to obtain the contents of electronic
mail, for example.  Those ECPA provisions would still apply for the
contents of such messages, but the FBI bill suggests that common carriers
might be responsible for delivering the addressing information associated
with electronic mail and other electronic communications.  For example, if
a user connects to the Internet over local telephone lines, law enforcement
might be able to demand from the telephone company information about where
the user sent messages, and into which remote systems that user connects. 
All of this information could be obtained by law enforcement without ever
receiving a wiretap order.

4. The power to shut down non-compliant networks

Finally, the bill proposes that the Attorney General have the power to shut
down any common carrier service that fails to comply with all of these
requirements.  Some have already called this the "war powers" provision. 
Granting the Department of Justice such control over our nation's
communications infrastructure is a serious threat to our First Amendment
right to send and receive information, free from undue government


This posting represents EFF's initial response to the new FBI proposal. 
Several documents, including the full text of the proposed bill and a more
detailed section-by-section analysis are available via anonymous ftp on
EFF's ftp site, as well as an archived copy of this announcement, and
FBI Director Louis Freeh's Digital Telephony speech from late 1993.

This docuemnt is digtel94.announce

The documents can be located via ftp, gopher, or www, as follows:

for gopher, same but replace first part with:


for WWW, same but replace first part with:


The directory also contains older Digital Telephony materials from earlier
incarnations of the FBI's wiretapping scheme; see digtel92* and digtel93*


Press inquiries, contact:

Jerry Berman, Executive Director 
Daniel Weitzner, Senior Staff Counsel 

+1 202-347-5400 
+1 202-393-5509 

Basic EFF info:
General queries:
Membership info:


Subject: NIST Press Release on Clipper Decisions

(EMBARGOED FOR RELEASE: 3:00 P.M., Friday, Feb. 4, 1994)

                           Fact Sheet
                  NIST Cryptography Activities 

Escrowed Encryption Standard

On April 16, 1993, the White House announced that the President
approved a directive on "Public Encryption Management."  Among
other items, the President directed the Secretary of Commerce, in
consultation with other appropriate U.S. agencies, to initiate a
process to write standards to facilitate the procurement and use of
encryption devices fitted with key-escrow microcircuits in federal
communications systems that process sensitive but unclassified

In response to the President's directive, on July 30, 1993, the
Department of Commerce's National Institute of Standards and
Technology (NIST) announced the voluntary Escrowed Encryption
Standard (EES) as a draft Federal Information Processing Standard
(FIPS) for public comment.  The FIPS would enable federal agencies
to procure escrowed encryption technology when it meets their
requirements; the standard is not to be mandatory for either
federal agency or private sector use. 

During the public review of the draft standard, a group of
independent cryptographers were provided the opportunity to examine
the strength of the classified cryptographic algorithm upon which
the EES is based.  They found that the algorithm provides
significant protection and that it will be 36 years until the cost
of breaking the EES algorithm will be equal to the cost of breaking
the current Data Encryption Standard.  They also found that there
is no significant risk that the algorithm can be broken through a
shortcut method of attack.

Public comments were received by NIST on a wide range of issues
relevant to the EES.  The written comments submitted by interested
parties and other information available to the Department relevant
to this standard were reviewed by NIST.  Nearly all of the comments
received from industry and individuals opposed the adoption of the
standard.   However, many of those comments reflected
misunderstanding or skepticism about the Administration's
statements that the EES would be a voluntary standard.  The
Administration has restated that the EES will be a strictly
voluntary standard available for use as needed to provide more
secure telecommunications.  The standard was found to be
technically sound and to meet federal agency requirements.   NIST
made technical and editorial changes and recommended the standard
for approval by the Secretary of Commerce.  The Secretary now has
approved the EES as a FIPS voluntary standard.
In a separate action, the Attorney General has now announced that
NIST has been selected as one of the two trusted agents who will
safeguard components of the escrowed keys.Digital Signature Standard

In 1991, NIST proposed a draft digital signature standard as a
federal standard for publiccomment.  Comments were received by NIST
on both technical and patent issues.  NIST has reviewed the
technical comments and made appropriate changes to the draft. 

In order to resolve the patent issues, on June 3, 1993, NIST
proposed a cross-licensing arrangement for a "Digital Signature 
Algorithm" for which NIST has received a patent application.  The
algorithm forms the basis of the proposed digital signature
standard.  Extensive public comments were received on the
proposed arrangement, many of them negative and indicating the need
for royalty-free availability of the algorithm.   The
Administration has now concluded that a royalty-free
digital signature technique is necessary in order to promote
widespread use of this important information security technique. 
NIST is continuing negotiations with the aim of obtaining a
digital signature standard with royalty-free use worldwide.  NIST
also will pursue other technical and legal options to attain that

Cooperation with Industry

During the government's review of cryptographic policies and
regulations, NIST requested assistance from the Computer System
Security and Privacy Advisory Board to obtain public
input on a wide range of cryptographic-related issues, including
the key escrow encryption proposal, legal and Constitutional
issues, social and public policy issues, privacy, vendor and
business perspectives, and users' perspectives.  The Board held
five days of public meetings.  Comments obtained by the Board were
useful during the government's review of these
issues.  In addition, NIST met directly with many industry and
public interest organizations, including those on the Digital
Privacy and Security Working Group and the Electronic
Frontier Foundation.  

As directed by the President when the key escrow encryption
initiative was announced, the government continues to be open to
other approaches to key escrowing.  On August 24,
1993, NIST also announced the opportunity to join a Cooperative
Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) to develop secure
software encryption with integrated cryptographic key escrowing
techniques.  Three industry participants have expressed their
interest to NIST in this effort; however, the government still
seeks fuller participation from the commercial software industry. 
NIST now is announcing an opportunity for industry to join in a
CRADA to develop improved and alternative hardware technologies
that contain key escrow encryption capabilities.

Additionally, the Administration has decided to strengthen NIST's
cryptographic capabilities in order to better meet the needs of
U.S. industry and federal agencies.  



Subject: FCC ftp site now online

NEWS                                               News media information  
Federal Communications Commission                            202/632-5050
1919 M Street, N.W.                Recorded listing of releases and texts
Washington, D.C.  20554                                      202/632-0002

This is an unofficial announcement of Commission action.  Release of the 
full text of a Commission order constitutes official action.  See _MCI_v._
FCC_, 515 F.2d 385 (DC Circ 1974)

                                                February 22, 1994


        On February 22, the FCC will begin making some of its information
available through Internet.  Starting today, the FCC Daily Digest, the FCC
News Releases, some Public Notices, and speeches by Commission officials
will be accessible.  The file name by which each document can be accessed
will appear in the Daily Digest.  In the future, the Commission will be
making more of its documents available through Internet. 

        The FCC's Internet address is

                                - FCC -

Office of Public Affairs contact:  Rosa Prescott at (202) 632-5050.


Subject: Nat'l Symposium on Arts & Humanities Policies for NII


On October 14th, 15th and 16th, the Center for Art Research in Boston will
sponsor a National Symposium on Proposed Arts and Humanities Policies for
the National Information Infrastructure.

Participants will explore the impact of the Clinton Administration's AGENDA
FOR ACTION and proposed NII (National Information Infrastructure)
legislation on the future of the arts and the humanities in 21st Century

The symposium, which will be held at the American Academy of Arts and
Sciences in Cambridge, Massachusetts, will bring together government
officials, academics, artists, writers, representatives of arts and
cultural institutions and organizations, and other concerned individuals
from many disciplines and areas of interest to discuss specific issues of
policy which will effect the cultural life of *all* Americans during the
coming decades.

To participate, submit a 250-word abstract of your proposal for a paper,
panel-discussion or presentation, accompanied by a one-page vitae, by March
15, 1994.

Special consideration will be given to those efforts that take a critical
perspective of the issues, and are concerned with offering specific
alternatives to current administration and congressional agendas.

Thank you,
Jay Jaroslav


Jay Jaroslav, Director  
CENTER FOR ART RESEARCH  241 A Street, Boston, MA 02210-1302 USA 
voice: (617) 451-8030 fax: (617) 451-1196


Subject: What YOU Can Do

"Relying on the government to protect your privacy is like asking a peeping 
tom to install your window blinds."    

     - John Perry Barlow, EFF co-founder, "Decrypting the Puzzle Palace"

You've been following the newspapers and reading EFFector Online. 
You know that today there are several battles being fought over the future
of personal privacy.  The Clipper Chip, export restrictions, the Digital
Telephony Proposal - the arguments are numerous and complex, but the
principles are clear.  Who will decide how much privacy is "enough"?

The Electronic Frontier Foundation believes that individuals should be
able to ensure the privacy of their personal communications through any
technological means they choose.  However, the government's current
restrictions on the export of encrytion software have stifled the
development and commercial availability of strong encryption in the U.S. 
Rep. Maria Cantwell has introduced a bill (H.R. 3627) in the House that
would liberalize export controls on software that contains encryption, but
needs vocal support if the bill is to make it out of the committee stage.  

The decisions that are made today will affect our futures indefinitely.  
EFF is a respected voice for the rights of users of online technologies
and EFF members receive regular online updates on the issues that affect
our online communications and particpate in shaping the future.

Now, more than ever, EFF is working to make sure that you are the one that
makes that decision for yourself.  Our members are making themselves heard
on the whole range of issues.  To date, EFF has collected over 4100 letters
of support for Rep. Cantwell's bill to liberalize restrictions on
cryptography.  We also have over 1000 letters asking Sen. Leahy to hold
open hearings on the proposed Clipper encryption standard.

If you'd like to add your voice in support of the Cantwell bill and the
Leahy hearings, you can send your letters to:, Subject: I support HR 3627, Subject: I support hearings on Clipper

Your letters will be printed out and hand delivered to Rep. Cantwell and
Sen. Leahy by EFF.

You KNOW privacy is important. You have probably participated in our online
campaigns.  Have you become a member of EFF yet?  We feel that the best
way to protect your online rights is to be fully informed and to make your
opinions heard.  EFF members are informed, and are making a difference. 
Join EFF today!



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