BOX 4 Basic Principles of Current National Cryptography Policy

  • Encryption is an important tool to protect privacy and confidentiality. The U.S. government will continue to rely on this technology to protect its secrets as well as the personal and proprietary data it maintains, and the use of encryption by federal agencies is encouraged when it meets their security requirements cost-effectively.

  • The Administration does not seek legislation to prohibit or in any way restrict the domestic use of cryptography.

  • Export controls on encryption are necessary to promote U.S. national security, but administrative procedures can be streamlined.

  • In recognition of the possibility that the economic significance of the encryption policy of the United States could change, the U.S. government has established the Interagency Working Group (IWG) on Encryption and Telecommunications to deal with continuing encryption policy issues. The group is co-chaired by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and the National Security Council.

  • The U.S. government will work with industry to develop alternative software and hardware approaches to key escrow encryption.

  • Use of the Escrowed Encryption Standard (FIPS-185) is voluntary and limited to telecommunications.

  • Government standards should not harm law enforcement or national security. When standards are set, the interests of all the components of the government should be taken into account, including users, law enforcement, and national security.

    SOURCE: Testimony of Raymond Kammer, National Institute of Standards and Technology, to the committee, December 14, 1994. Note that while many events have transpired since the date of this testimony, no actual policy changes have occurred (except for the promulgation of a final rule regarding the "personal use" exemption for temporary exports of cryptography). To the best of the committee's knowledge, there is no single document anywhere that authoritatively expresses the national cryptography policy of the United States in a comprehensive manner.

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    Last Updated on 05/29/96

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