Encryption, September 28, 1999
Overview | Briefing Book
On the heels of the White House's new policy proposal on Encryption reform, Administration leaders came to Capitol Hill to discuss the proposal with Members, staff, industry and public interest groups.
This lunch briefing will have been the only public opportunity for Congressional leaders to discuss the proposal with Administration officials before the final regulations are issued on December 15, 1999.
John Schwartz, reporter for The Washington Post, moderated the briefing and organized questions from Members and the audience. The panel from the Administration consisted of:
- William Reinsch, Under Secretary for Export Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce
- James Robinson, Assistant Attorney General, Criminal Division, U.S. Department of Justice
- Peter Swire, Chief Counselor for Privacy, Executive Office of the President, Office of Management and Budget
- Lin Wells, Department of Defense
Participating Members were Senator Conrad Burns, Representative Bob Goodlatte, Senator Patrick Leahy and Representative Curt Weldon. The discussion centered around the Administration's proposal and Members and staff received a briefing book with the key documents included.
Senator Conrad Burns kicked off the briefing by stating that he was pleased with the announcement but was watching closely what comes out in the regulations. Senator Leahy noted that Congress still has work to do in the area of E-Privacy. Representative Goodlatte said that despite the new policy announcement the S.A.F.E. bill was "ready to go" with 258 sponsors.
Secretary Reinsch stated that the there is noting hidden in the proposal. "It is what it is," according to Mr. Reinsch. Mr. Reinsch told Mr. Goodlatte that the regulations would be out no later than December 15. He also commented that the policy proposal went farther than the PROTECT Act and was similar to S.A.F.E in many places. Mr. Reinsch believes that the "one time technical review" would take no longer than 30 days and would not be a burden.
Many of the Administration panelists suggested that funding of law enforcement was a necessary element in ensuring that national security interests are met. Also, it was reiterated that C.E.S.A. was not tied to the expected export regulations but would proceed on its own independent track.
Representative Curt Weldon, clearly surprised by the Administration's new policy, expressed concerns that law enforcement may not have the tools they need to combat terrorism and crime. He strongly urged the heads of law enforcement to report to him how the new policy contemplates national security interests.
The briefing was hosted by the Internet Caucus Advisory Committee in conjunction with the Internet Caucus Co-Chairs for Members of Congress, staff and Advisory Committee members. This briefing was made possible by the efforts of the ICAC Supporters Group, Ben Cline in Representative Goodlatte's office, Kristin Litterst with Americans for Computer Privacy, Don Medley with the Business Software Alliance, Alan Davidson and Lusan Chua with the Center for Democracy and Technology, Jonathan B. Berroya with Steptoe & Johnson, and Paul Hoffman with the Internet Mail Consortium.