Court order required to unscramble messages - US compromise

Subject: Court order required to unscramble messages - US compromise
From: Emanuella Giavarra (
Date: ke 15 heinš† 1998 - 17:17:17 EEST

(FT Tuesday 14 July 1998)

Dear list members,

The Financial Times reported yesterday that leading US high technology
companies have put forward an initiavie to break a stalemate with the US
government over export controls on technology used to scramble
electronic messages.

The new approach involves giving networks administrators the ability to
obtain a decrypted version of a message, should they be required to do
so by a court.

Government agencies, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation and
National Security Agency have demanded export restrictions on encryption
on the grounds that the technology may be used to mask criminal

The computer and software industries maintain that encryption is
essential for electronic commerce, where it is used to protect financial
transactions and sensitive information.

So far, efforts to reach a compromise have foundered with the government
achieving only muted industry support for so called "key recovery"
systems in which the secret code needed to unlock a scrambled message
would be lodged with a trusted third party.

Now 13 companies - including the leading producers of data networking
equipment and software leaders - have thrown their weight behind a new
compromise called a private doorbell.

Under the scheme, anyone lawfully seeking to unscramble messages would
not have direct access to the code keys, but would first have to serve a
court order on the network operators who would be able selectively to
decode the information.

Kind regards,
Emanuella Giavarra

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