cr> ACM/IEEE letter on Burns crypto bill


Craig A. Johnson


              Association For Computing Machinery
                     Office of US Public Policy
                     666 Pennsylvania Avenue SE
                              Suite 301
                      Washington, DC 20003 USA
              (tel) 202/298-0842 (fax) 202/547-5482

      Institute of Electronics and Electrical Engineers
                     United States Activities
                        1828 L Street NW
                              Suite 1202
                   Washington, DC 20036-5104 USA
              (tel) 202/785-0017 (fax) 202/785-0835

April 2, 1996

Honorable Conrad Burns
Chairman, Subcommittee on Science, Technology and Space
Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee
US Senate SD-508
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Chairman Burns:

 On behalf of the nation's two leading computing and engineering
associations, we are writing to support your efforts, and the efforts
of the other cosponsors of the Encrypted Communications Privacy Act,
to remove unnecessarily restrictive controls on the export of
encryption technology.  The Encrypted Communications Privacy Act sets
out the minimum changes that are necessary to the current export
controls on encryption technology.  However, we believe that the
inclusion of issues that are tangential to export, such as key escrow
and encryption in domestic criminal activities, is not necessary.  The
relaxation of export controls is of great economic importance to
industry and users, and should not become entangled in more
controversial matters.

 Current restrictions on the export of encryption technology harm the
interests of the United States in three ways: they handicap American
producers of software & hardware, prevent the development of a secure
information infrastructure, and limit the ability of Americans using
new online services to protect their privacy.  The proposed
legislation will help mitigate all of these problems, though more will
need to be done to assure continued US leadership in this important
hi-tech sector.

 Technological progress has moved encryption from the realm of
national security into the commercial sphere. Current policies, as
well as the policy-making processes, should reflect this new reality.
The legislation takes a necessary first step in shifting authority to
the Commerce Department and removing restrictions on certain
encryption products.  Future liberalization of export controls will
allow Americans to excel in this market.

 The removal of out-dated restrictions on exports will also enable the
creation of a Global Information Infrastructure sufficiently secure to
provide seamless connectivity to customers previously unreachable by
American companies.   The United States is a leader in Internet
commerce.  However, Internet commerce requires cryptography.  Thus
American systems have been hindered by cold-war restraints on the
necessary cryptography as these systems have moved from the laboratory
to the marketplace.  This legislation would open the market to secure,
private, ubiquitous electronic commerce.  The cost of not opening the
market may include the loss of leadership in computer security
technologies, just at the time when Internet users around the world
will need good security to launch commercial applications.

 For this legislation to fulfill its promise the final approval of
export regulations must be based on analysis of financial and
commercial requirements and opportunities, not simply on the views of
experts in national security cryptography. Therefore, we urge you to
look at ways to further relax restrictive barriers.

 Finally, the legislation will serve all users of electronic
information systems by supporting the development of a truly global
market for secure desktop communications.  This will help establish
private and secure spaces for the work of users, which is of
particular interest to the members of the IEEE/USA and the USACM.

 On behalf of the both the USACM and the IEEE/USA we look forward to
working with you on this important legislation to relax export
controls and promote the development of a robust, secure, and reliable
communications infrastructure for the twenty-first century.

 Please contact Deborah Rudolph in the IEEE Washington Office at
(202) 785-0017 or Lauren Gelman in the ACM Public Policy Office at
(202) 298-0842 for any additional information.


      Barbara Simons, Ph.D.
      Chair, U.S. Public Policy
      Committee of ACM

      Joel B. Snyder, P.E.
      Vice President, Professional Activities and
      Chair, United States Activities Board

cc:     Members of the Subcommittee on
 Science, Technology and Space


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