‘SAFE’ Encryption Bill Wins Approval of House International Relations Committee

July 22, 1997

CCIA Applauds Vote As Next Step Toward

Securing the Internet for E-Commerce

(Washington, DC) — In another critical vote for the future of the Internet and electronic commerce, the House International Relations Committee today voted unanimously to advance HR 695, the “Security and Freedom through Encryption (SAFE) Act.” John Scheibel, Vice President and General Counsel of the Computer & Communications Industry Association, praised the Committee’s decision to reject an amendment which would have weakened the measure.

“This bill deals with the reality that strong encryption is already widely available domestically and abroad and its supporters recognize that we cannot handcuff businesses and computer users by forcing them to accept anything less,” Scheibel said.

“I am pleased that yet another Committee agrees that this bill is a common sense approach to the complicated problem of protecting privacy as well as our national security interests. The current encryption policy results in a lose-lose scenario for everyone. U.S. high-tech companies lose because we cannot compete on a level playing field with competitors in Europe and Asia which are not handcuffed by such a restrictive policy. Businesses and individuals lose because their communications on the Internet are vulnerable thanks to key recovery. And U.S. national security interests lose because strong encryption — without key recovery — is still available elsewhere.

“Representatives Goodlatte and Lofgren have done an extraordinary job of building support for this legislation,” Scheibel said. “There are now 200 cosponsors to this legislation. In addition to the information technology community, other significant components of our economy , including retail, banking and manufacturing, strongly believe that the SAFE bill would keep international competition on a level playing field, keep the illegal use of encryption in check, and place our national encryption policy on the right track. For these reasons, we must pass this bill and continue to oppose efforts which masquerade as a compromise.”

CCIA is an association of computer and communications industry firms. Small, medium and large in size, these companies employ over a half million workers and generate annual revenues in excess of 200 billion dollars. As CCIA members, these companies seek open, barrier-free competition for computer and communications products and services worldwide.

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