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July 14, 1998

US ENCRYPTION RULING CHALLENGES AUSTRALIAN DEVELOPERS

By CBR Staff Writer

A decision by the US to ease encryption export regulations may make life harder for Australia’s cryptography developers unless the move is mirrored locally. The US decision, announced by Commerce Secretary William Daley (CI No 3,448), gives approval for encryption technologies aimed at banks and other financial institutions to be exported from the US to 45 nations, among them Australia. Key length restrictions have been removed under the new guidelines. Industry commentators are split on their assessment of the likely impact of the US announcement on Australian exports. Allan Owen, manager of cryptography exports at Australia’s export approvals body – the Defense Signals Directorate – told the Australian newspaper that Australia would most likely follow the US lead on export guidelines. While Australia is a co-signatory with the US, the UK and 30 other countries to the Wassenaar agreement, which controls exports of hardware and software encryption to non-signatories, the real impact of the looser US regime is likely to be felt by a local industry unprepared for competition with American imports.

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