Those traveling on the information superhighway just hit a brick wall, is the Business Software Alliance’s frank verdict on the likely effect of the Clinton administration’s encryption regulations which were published in late December. The Alliance, comprising the likes of Apple Computer Inc, Lotus Development Corp, Microsoft Corp, Novell Inc, Symantec Corp, IBM Corp, Intel Corp, Digital Equipment Corp, Sybase Inc and Computer Associates International Inc on its policy council, is at the end of its tether with the Clinton administration, and fired off another letter to vice president Al Gore warning the government that it will now seek new legislation through Congress. President Clinton used his executive powers to get the law onto the statute books after Congress had failed to reach agreement . The Alliance said it wouldn’t offer detailed reasons why it is so unhappy with the regulations because, quite simply, there is no way to repair it.
Key recovery or key escrow
The Alliance wrote to Al Gore at the start of December, detailing its objections, after having sent a more detailed submission to the Interagency Working Group that was working on the proposals a few months ago. The Alliance supports the key recovery system (CI No 3,016), but reckons the administration is trying to pass off mandatory key escrow as key recovery: in order to get this [export license], you have to do this [hand over the key] is the Alliance’s view of the administration’s position. And this view would seem to be enforced by US attempts to pressure around 30 members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development at a meeting in Paris late last year to incorporate key escrow into their encryption laws. An unnamed US official told InfoWorld that the reception had been mixed from the other countries but added that some large European countries were in favor of key escrow and said the US didn’t have that much influence on the forum anyhow. The Alliance’s letter goes on to argue that the policy is not voluntary, market driven or practical, despite the Clinton administration’s assertions to the contrary. Rather it is nothing less than ‘Clipper III’, a top-down government-designed industrial policy that is at heart a Department of Justice-driven attempt to impose mandatory key escrow domestically as well as abroad. The protest concludes by lamenting that nothing it has said over the past year – when it first expressed its wishes – has been heard by the administration.