Drop a dime (or so) -- Splurge for Communication Rights
Mime-Version: 1.0 (NeXT Mail 3.3 v118.2)
From: Peter Langston <psl>
Date: Mon, 22 Sep 97 12:33:47 -0700
Subject: Drop a dime (or so) -- Splurge for Communication Rights
Forwarded-by: Nev Dull <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Forwarded-by: Phil Agre <email@example.com>
[Someone once explained the national security state to me like this:
they're not necessarily very smart; it's just that they have immense
quantities of money and therefore immense numbers of people, and they
can write job descriptions for those people any way they like, so even
if their arguments don't make sense, they have no trouble just coming
at you until you get tired. Are you tired yet?]
From: Stanton McCandlish <firstname.lastname@example.org>
____ _ ____ _ _
| __ )(_) __ _ | __ ) _ __ ___ | |_| |__ ___ _ __ Stop the Big Brother
| _ \| |/ _` | | _ \| '__/ _ \| __| '_ \ / _ \ '__| Amendment, coming next
| |_) | | (_| | | |_) | | | (_) | |_| | | | __/ | week in the House
|____/|_|\__, | |____/|_| \___/ \__|_| |_|\___|_| Commerce committee!
Posted September 18, 1997
Please forward where appropriate until September 28, 1997
This alert brought to you by
The Voters Telecommunications Watch, The Center for Democracy & Technology,
the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Wired Magazine,
and Americans for Tax Reform
Table of Contents
Stop the Government From Building Big Brother Into The Internet
What You Can Do
-Please contact four leading members of Congress
About This Alert
* STOP THE GOVERNMENT FROM BUILDING BIG BROTHER INTO THE INTERNET
In 1948, George Orwell described a future world in which Big Brother peeked
over the shoulder of every citizen -- watching every move and listening to
Now, in 1997, the FBI is pushing the United States Congress to pass
legislation which would make George Orwell's frightening vision a reality.
Next week the House Commerce Committee will meet to consider a proposal that
would require all Americans to provide the government guaranteed access to
their private online communications and business transactions. Taking a
page out of Orwell's 1984, the FBI-spawned proposal would require that every
part of the Internet -- from the software on your computer to the network
provider that carries your messages around the net -- be jury-rigged to
divulge your private conversations immediately on request by the FBI (see
Unfortunately, this is not a work of fiction.
The amendment, to be offered by Representatives Mike Oxley (R-OH) and Thomas
Manton (D-NY), is a serious threat to your privacy and represents the first
and final step in the construction of a National Surveillance
A vote is expected on September 25. The future of privacy and security in
the information age is in the hands of the Commerce Committee, and they need
to know that folks are watching and care about the outcome.
On Monday September 22, please join thousands of Internet users all across
the country as we call on Congress to stop big brother. With your help and
support, we can ensure that George Orwell's 1984 does not become a reality.
All the information you need is attached below.
* WHAT YOU CAN DO
1. ON MONDAY SEPTEMBER 22, pick up the phone and call as many of the four
leading members of the Commerce committee as you can:
Chairman Thomas Bliley (R-VA) (202) 225-2815
Ranking member John Dingell (D-MI) (202) 225-4071
Rep. W.J. Tauzin (R-LA) (202) 225-4031
Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA) (202) 225-2836
2. Ask for the staffer that handles the encryption issue.
3. Say that you're calling to urge the Congressman to pass SAFE (HR695)
Specifically, say that you "OPPOSE THE OXLEY/MANTON BIG BROTHER AMENDMENT.
Americans should not be required to give the government keys to the front
door of their house, and they shouldn't be required to give the government
the keys to unlock their private online communications."
Other amendments may be proposed. Please urge the Congressman to pass SAFE
"as is" and oppose any amendments. Feel free to use your own words though
here are some points you might want to stress:
- Oxley/Manton is a dramatic expansion of law enforcement power. It would
give law enforcement "immediate" access to private online communications
and business transactions without any notice or knowledge to the user.
- Oxley/Manton is NOT A BALANCE BETWEEN PRIVACY INTERESTS AND LAW
ENFORCEMENT CONCERNS, as some supporters have argued. It gives the FBI
broad new power while stripping Americans of their Fourth Amendment right
to be secure from unreasonable searches and seizures.
- Oxley/Manton would give the Attorney General authority to dictate the
design of Internet services and software to suit the needs of law
- Oxley/Manton would not stop crime. Strong encryption without "immediate
access" features is available today at home and abroad.
- Oxley/Manton would increase opportunities for cybercrime as criminal hackers
attack vulnerabilities in the key recovery access system.
4. Let us know how it went! Go to one of the following web pages, depending
on who you called, and tell us about the conversation.
Rep. Bliley http://www.crypto.com/member/meet.cgi?membid=va07
Rep. Dingell http://www.crypto.com/member/meet.cgi?membid=mi16
Rep. Tauzin http://www.crypto.com/member/meet.cgi?membid=la03
Rep. Markey http://www.crypto.com/member/meet.cgi?membid=ma07
5. Forward this ALERT to your friends and colleagues.
6. Feel good about yourself! Know that you've stood up for privacy, and
contacting Congress is more than most people take the time to do!
The House Commerce Committee is considering a bill known as the "Security
and Freedom through Encryption Act" (HR 695, a.k.a. SAFE). SAFE would
encourage the widespread availability of strong, easy-to-use encryption
technologies in order to protect privacy and promote electronic commerce on
the Internet. SAFE enjoys broad support from Internet users, civil
liberties advocates, and over 250 members of Congress.
Last week, the Commerce Committee delayed its vote on the SAFE bill in order
to give the Committee more time to study the implications of the
Oxley/Manton amendment, which would change SAFE to ban encryption which does
not contain features that provide law enforcement with "immediate access"
to the plain text of encrypted information, including private communications
and business transactions (visit http://www.crypto.com/safe_bill/)
The Oxley/Manton amendment would for the first time impose sweeping
restrictions on the ability of American citizens to protect their privacy
on US soil. Specifically, the amendment would:
* PROHIBIT THE DOMESTIC MANUFACTURE AND SALE OF ENCRYPTION PRODUCTS OR
SERVICES WHICH DO NOT PROVIDE INSTANT ACCESS FOR LAW ENFORCEMENT: The
proposal would prohibit the manufacture, sale, import, or distribution
within the United States of any encryption product unless it allows
"immediate access" to the plain text of any user's messages or files
without the user's knowledge.
* GRANT BROAD NEW AUTHORITY FOR THE ATTORNEY GENERAL TO SET TECHNICAL
STANDARDS FOR ENCRYPTION PRODUCTS: The proposal allows the Attorney
General to set standards for what are and are not acceptable
encryption products. The proposal's requirement of immediate access to
plain text would seem to seriously limit the options available to
encryption manufacturers seeking approval of their products.
The amendment does not specify whether the immediate access "features" could
be activated (or not) at the option of the purchaser or end user.
Nonetheless, requiring that such a capability be installed in all domestic
communications networks and encryption products is the equivalent of
enabling a national surveillance infrastructure and asserts unprecedented
control over the design of Internet software, hardware, and services.
The amendment is analogous to the government requiring surveillance cameras
in every new house built in the United States, which could be turned on
remotely by the police if you were ever suspected of committing a crime.
Worse yet, such "key escrow" or "key recovery" technologies pose
significant risk to the security of the Internet -- providing new points
of vulnerability for hackers, terrorists, and industrial spies to
exploit. A recent study by 11 of the world's leading cryptographers
concluded that the large scale deployment of such technologies would be
too complex and too insecure to meet the needs of an Information Age
society (see http://www.crypto.com/key_study/)
Despite widespread opposition from Internet users, civil liberties groups,
privacy advocates, and the computer and communications industries, Oxley
and Manton plan to push for this FBI-spawned amendment at the Commerce
Committee vote. If it is adopted, it would represent the first and final
step in the development of a national surveillance infrastructure.
* ABOUT THIS ALERT
This message was brought to you by the Center for Democracy and Technology
(http://www.cdt.org), the Voters Telecommunications Watch
(http://www.vtw.org/), the Electronic Frontier Foundation
(http://www.eff.org/), Wired Magazine (http://www.wired.com/), and Americans
for Tax Reform (http://www.atr.org/) who have joined together on this alert.
© 1997 Peter Langston