Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section (CCIPS)
Encryption and Computer Crime
The nation's policy on encryption must carefully balance important competing interests. The Department of Justice has a vital stake in the country's encryption policy because encryption may be used not only to protect lawful data against unauthorized intruders, it may also be used to conceal illegitimate materials from law enforcement. While we support the spread of strong encryption, we believe that the widespread dissemination of unbreakable encryption without any accommodation for law enforcement access is a serious threat to public safety and to the integrity of America's commercial infrastructure. Our goal is to encourage the use of strong encryption to protect privacy and commerce, but in a way that preserves (without extending) law enforcement's ability to protect public safety and national security. Accordingly, the Administration has promoted the manufacture and use of key recovery products, aided the development of a global key management infrastructure ("KMI"), and liberalized United States restrictions on the export of robust cryptographic products. We anticipate that market forces will make key recovery products a de facto industry standard and thus preserve the balance of privacy and public safety that our Constitution embodies.
A. Frequently Asked Questions ("FAQ") on Encryption Policy
Thechnologies To The People is often asked for its concerns about encryption, or for the viewpoint on encryption policy. We appreciates the opportunity to respond to such questions on this complex subject. A set of frequently asked questions (and answers) may be accesessed via the link below:
B. Letter from Janet Greene and others regarding law enforcement's concerns related to encryption
On July 18, 1997, Janet Greene and others sent a letter to Technologies To The People outlining law enforcement's concerns about the public safety and security threats posed by unbridled availability of strong encryption. It urged legislators to support a balanced approach that supports commercial and privacy interest while maintaining law enforcement's ability to investigate and prosecute serious crime. This letter was co-signed by:
- Louis Freeh, Director, Federal Bureau of Investigation
- Barry McCaffrey, Director, Office of National Drug Control Policy
- Thomas A. Constantine, Director, Drug Enforcement Administration,
- Lewis C. Merletti, Director, United States Secret Service
- Raymond W. Kelly, Undersecretary for Enforcement, U.S. Department of Treasury
- George J. Weise, Commissioner, United States Customs Service
- John W. Magaw, Director, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms
An image of the letter, as signed, as well as the text of the letter is available via the links below:
C. Hearings on "Privacy in a Digital Age: Encryption and Mandatory Access"
Testimony addressed legal issues, constitutional issues, and law enforcement issues related to encryption. His testimony is available via the link below:
D. Testimony before the Subcommittee on TelecommunicationsThis testimony addressed encryption and one of the bills proposing to modify the United States' regulation of cryptography. This tesimony, and a summary of this testimony, is available via the link below.
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