May 15, 1996
The Honorable William J. Clinton
The White House
Washington, D.C. 20500
Dear Mr. President:
We are writing to ask you not to proceed with your Administration's key escrow encryption policy proposal and instead to immediately liberalize export controls on non-key escrow encryption programs and products.
Many of us have sponsored H.R. 3011, the "Security and Freedom Though Encryption (SAFE) Act" which would ensure the continued ability of Americans to use and sell good encryption and would permit the export of generally available software with encryption capabilities and other such software and hardware under license when certain conditions are met. We understand that the Administration has developed a key escrow encryption proposal and is not at this time willing to ease export restrictions on encryption programs and products which are widely available from domestic and foreign companies and the Internet.
We share the concerns of a wide range of businesses and privacy interests that a key escrow approach will not adequately address security concerns. The ability of companies and individuals to ensure that the information they send over communications and computer networks is secure is a prerequisite to exploiting the potential of the Global Information Infrastructure. For example, U.S. small businesses are beginning to harness the Internet to enter foreign markets. The Internet in effect lowers the barriers to entry for these companies. But they will not be able to rely on the Internet if their information is not secure.
We also have serious concerns about the impact of the Administration's policy on the U.S. economy and job creation. (Indeed, it is our strong belief the U.S. economic interests must be a primary consideration in encryption policy discussions with other countries, the OECD, and in other forums. It is not clear that this has been the case in the discussions held up to this point).
A recent report entitled "A Study of the International Market for Computer Software With Encryption" prepared by the U.S. Department of Commerce and the National Security Agency indicated that U.S. companies will lose market share given the availability of stronger encryption products overseas. The Computer Systems Policy Project estimates that unless the U.S. relaxes out-of-date export controls, the U.S. technology industry will lose $60 billion in revenues and 200,000 jobs by the year 2000.
As Congress begins to consider H.R. 3011 we would greatly appreciate knowing whether the Administration plans to publish a final rule implementing a key escrow encryption proposal or, alternatively, will relax export controls on encryption programs and products which do not have a key escrow feature.
Sincerely, Tom Campbell Bob Goodlatte Anna Eshoo Eliot Engel Zoe Lofgren Bob Barr Carlos Moorhead Patricia Schroeder Barney Frank Sam Gejdenson Howard Coble Rick Boucher Fred Heineman Sonny Bono Vernon Ehlers Randy Cunningham Charlie Norwood Randy Tate Donald Manzullo Helen Chenoweth Thomas Davis Roscoe Bartlett Sam Farr Ken Calvert Linda Smith Joseph Moakley Lynn Woolsey
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