nettime's_digestive_system on Sun, 16 May 1999 00:54:35 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> PECSENC digest

     [all messages orig to <>; 'PECSENC' 
      is the U.S. 'President's Export Council Subcommittee on En-
      cryption' and the event in question was its meeting 14 may 
      1999, dep't of commerce, washington, d.c. --cheers, tb]

John Young <>
          PECSENC Stuff
          PECSENC Docs
          More PECSENC

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Date: Fri, 14 May 1999 20:21:03 -0400
From: John Young <>
Subject: PECSENC Stuff

Hung out at the PECSENC meet today in DC, got hardcopy
of its action plan for the next 12 months and membership list.

We'll get the package up tonight, pretty interesting stuff. Heard
of Liberalization 2000? PECSENC's Web site? The sound
of a room full of crypto-hustlers sucking up?


Stewart Baker said McCain's crypto bill is "stupid," written
by ignorant people trying to make it "idiot proof" who don't
get that the key recovery battle is over, the idea's dead.

William Reinsch said "the Senate doesn't get what we're telling
them, the House does."

After Sherry Steele's and Bob Corn-Riviere's presentation on
Bernstein, Renisch said BXA will recomend to Justice to fight the
decision, that they've got to or the crypto export control system
will fall apart.

We sat next to Crowell's laptop and used a thing Adam Back
rigged to offload to the UK everything on it -- or the one he leaves
to divert attention from the black gadget on his gut. I went up to
him, said hello, what is this shit called Echelon. The last thing
I remember was him slapping his belly and a blinding flash.
I woke up in the gents on the Detla Shuttle to La Guardia,
Taser barbs still sizzling shishkebab. Adam's rig is missing,
but the truth of Echelon is stored on Eternity.

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Date: Sat, 15 May 1999 00:39:41 -0400
From: John Young <>
Subject: PECSENC Docs

We offer several documents from the PECSENC meeting
of February 14, 1999:

1. Agenda
2. Members of PECSENC
3. Memorandum on PECSENC Action Plan
4. Executive Summary, PECSENC Meeting Open Session, March 12, 1999
5. Candid Meeting Comments (backdoor algorithms)

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Date: Sat, 15 May 1999 10:16:37 -0400
From: John Young <>
Subject: More PECSENC

More on the May 14 1999 PECSENC meeting:

(Related docs at <>)

1. Liberalization 2000: I arrived during the discussion
so didn't hear the sponsor's report. See Baker's memo
for intent. It was described as "options for change."
As noted there, a Federal Register notice will be issued
soon about it. A working group meeting is set for June 24-25
for "experts" to prepare policy papers for public response.
One or two public meetings will be held, perhaps with work
groups and plenary.

2. PECSENC Web site: A Web site is in the works to be run
by Commerce, though no target date was available from Jason
Gomberg, PECSENC administrator, who will oversee the site
and who claims to be an advocate of public access (I reminded
him he had never answered my e-mail months ago asking for
info; that material promised this week never came from Lisa
Carpenter's office; and that BXA's public responsiveness rep
sucked (except for lapdogs -- as evidenced by Reinsch's comment
during the meeting that if BXA couldn't meet a deadline for
completing an application an automatic denial issued, "so it
is unrealistic for McCain's bill to set a time limit on
application processing.") Jason <> is to
field all PECSENC public inquiries, Crowell and he said.

3. Barbara Simons, ACM, reported on the adverse effect
of the WIPO copyright act on encryption research and made an
appeal for support of Gene Spafford's letter campaign
<>. After brief
discussion of whether researchers will be prosecuted for
violating WIPO, the panel decided the topic was not its
purview. For more, see Simons column in the CACM,
October 1998, pp. 17-18.

4. Smartcards: After the sponsor's report and exteneded
discussion it was declared that "smartcards are not a hot
issue" but because of rapidly advancing technology and usage
they deserve the panel's deliberations and policy
recommendations. Something about this will be put in the
Federal Register announcement.

5. Scannable text: Extended discussion of the BXA's statement
in 1998 that it reserved the option to control scannable
text of encryption. IBM's Kevin McCurley said he had just come
out with a CD-book that had many years of Eurocrypt papers on it
but only in PDF form and had excluded papers from FES due to
the scannable text threat. Reinsch had no words of comfort,
invoked the need to reserve options to protect national security.

6. Bernstein: Steele and Corn-Revere highighted four aspects
of the decision: its 1A affirmation for source code, its high
level awareness of Snuffle technology to bare the absurdity of
crypto export controls; its binding "dicta" (will a lawyer explain
this), and its comments on the need for cryptography to protect
privacy and political speech. Some panelists commented that
they applauded the decision but anxiously awaited next steps
by DoJ and were carefully complying with the stay. There was
no one from Justice to respond. Reinsch said he was appreciative
of the panel's views but that BXA would recommend to Justice to
fight the decision, otherwise crypto controls are doomed.

Crowell (and others) raised the question of what would
happen if export of source code was allowed under Bernstein but
executables were not. Consensus was that the the US crypto
industry would move offshore and die domestically. (Expect this
scare-tactic to get politcal play in days ahead, for it seemed
to have been orchestrated beforehand -- could Cylink's head and
everyone there do otherwise and keep their jobs?)

Corn-Revere grimaced during this exchange, Steele had the look
of a bulletless hunter facing hyenas.

Uber Dicta: Steven Levy in Newsweek on the Bernstein heroes.

7. McCain's bill S.768: Reinsch noted these deficiencies:

Section 3. Findings (11) "... American companies should be
free to sell, license, or otherwise distribute such encryption
products and programs worldwide so long as *national security
is not put at risk*." The final phrase is the heart of the issue,

and the bill fails to resolve it.

Section 4. Definitions (5) "Generally Available or General
Availability." Determining this is going to be in continuous

Section 101. Development and Deployment of Encryption a
Voluntary Private Sector Activity (b) "Limitation on
Regulation." Forbidding government to link crypto used
for confidentiality and that for authenticity fails to
understand the complexity of encryption technology.

Section 103. Mandatory Government Access to Plaintext
Prohibited (All section deals with key recovery). Government
prefers to "use carrots" to gain compliance not prohibition.

Section 202. Federal Purchases of Encryption Products
(b) "Interoperability Required." and (c) "Citizens Not Required
to Purchase Specified Product."Impossible for the government
to be able to interop with all possible commercially-
available encryption products. Several panelists agreed.

Section 301. Deadline for final Selection of Algorithm or
Algorithms by NIST (a) "AES Process. Deadline of January
1, 2002 is in conflict with NIST schedule.

Section 401. Information Technology Laboratory. Intent of
seciton not clear.

Section 502. Presidential Authority (a)(2) "IEEPA and EEA."
This section does not reflect the reality that IEEPA is
all there is for presidential authority, for Congress will
not pass a new EEA. Here, Reinsch commented that "the Senate
does not get it, the House does."

Sections 503, 504, 505 and 506. Exportability of Encryption
Products, the Encryption Export Advisory Board, and AES as
Standard of Exportability. The guts of the bill, the parts
hardest to accept as written for they interfere with
BXA's "national security" mandate.

Reinsch and others stated that the bill appeared to be a
complete flip-flop of McCain's prior position on crypto
and showed the characteristic marks of going from one extreme
to another without understanding the related technology and
law. Hear, hear, the panel agreed, "we've got to help them
give them acceptable language." Baker said the bill is "stupid,"
written by the ignorant to be "idiot proof" against key
recovery, which is dead.

8. The cafeteria at Commerce, Taser in the gut.

Thank you for staying awake.

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