From: f...@eff.org (Cliff Figallo)
Subject: EFFector Online 5.08
Summary: Update on EFF-related activities since Clipper Chip announcement
Sender: use...@eff.org (NNTP News Poster)
Organization: The Electronic Frontier Foundation
Date: Fri, 14 May 1993 19:35:32 GMT
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In this issue:
Clipper Chip-Related Excerpts from:
A Letter from the Digital Privacy and Security Working Group
to President Clinton
A Selection of Questions Submitted by the Working Group
Sent to President Clinton
Whit Diffie's Testimony Before the House Subcommittee on Science
A Request for Public Comment by the National Institute of
Standards and Technology
As reported in issue 5.06 of EFFector Online, on April 16, 1993, the
Clinton Administration announced its proposal for a new national
cryptography policy. Under this proposed policy, a voice encryption
standard utilizing a Clipper Chip would be adopted, and two escrow
agents would each hold half of a code key that could be used to
decrypt messages encrypted by a particular Clipper Chip. This would
enable law enforcement officers to conduct court-authorized
wiretaps of encrypted messages. EFF immediately released an
analysis of the proposal, expressing our concerns about the secrecy
surrounding the development of the Clipper Chip and the
Administration's intention to keep the encryption algorithm
classified. Here are some of the activities EFF and others have
engaged in since that announcement was made.
On May 7, 1993, the Digital Privacy and Security Working Group sent
a letter to President Clinton expressing the Group's concerns and
asking that a public dialogue be initiated to discuss the issue further.
The Digital Privacy and Security Working Group is a coalition of
communications and computer companies and associations and
consumer and privacy advocates that was formed almost a decade
ago and is chaired by EFF's Executive Director, Jerry Berman. The
Working Group has been concerned that no inquiry had been made
before the release of the proposed government Clipper standard.
The Working Group proposed that the Group be included in any
future review process of the Administration's encryption proposal.
Here are some highlights from the Working Group's letter to the
"Dear Mr. President:
"On April 16 you initiated a broad industry/government review of
privacy and cryptography policies. We applaud your efforts to
develop a greater understanding of these complex issues. With the
end of the Cold War and the rapid evolution of technology in the
computer and communications industries, a comprehensive review of
our communications security policies such as you have directed is
sorely needed. As the world becomes linked by a myriad of
interconnected digital networks, and computer and communications
technologies converge, both government and the private sector need
to evaluate information security and privacy issues. Of course, any
overall policy must recognize the authorized law enforcement and
national security needs, and must evaluate the impact on American
. . .
"While we recognize the importance of authorized national security
and law enforcement needs, we believe that there are fundamental
privacy and other constitutional rights that must be taken into
account when any domestic surveillance scheme is proposed.
Moreover, it is unclear how your proposal and the overall review of
cryptography policy will impact on U.S. export controls. Over the
past two years, the Digital Privacy and Security Working Group has
held numerous meetings at which both public and private sector
representatives have exchanged technical and legal information with
the law enforcement community on just such issues.
"In the White House press release of April 16, the Press Secretary
stated that you have 'directed early and frequent consultations with
affected industries...and groups that advocate the privacy rights of
"Our group of over 50 members -- from computer software and
hardware firms, to telecommunications companies and energy
companies, to the American Civil Liberties Union and the Electronic
Frontier Foundation -- requests the opportunity to participate in
developing policy on the broad range of security and privacy issues
being considered, including appropriate encryption techniques. We
believe that our membership has the breadth and depth of expertise
and experience that would allow us to provide an excellent forum for
the development of new policies in these areas.
"During the past few weeks, the Working Group has met several
times to identify issues that need to be addressed. Several aspects of
the Administration's encryption proposal warrant further discussion,
including, but not limited to:
o whether a key escrow system will produce the desired law
o the level of strength and integrity of the algorithm and
the security of the key escrow system;
o the advisability of a government-developed and classified
o its practicality and commercial acceptability;
o the effect of the proposal on American competitiveness and
the balance of trade;
o possible implications for the development of digital
o the effect on the right to privacy and other constitutional
"A detailed list of our questions relating to this subject is being
prepared to facilitate this dialogue.
"We are making our views known to officials within your
Administration and Members of Congress as the review begins. We
would welcome the opportunity to participate in the review process
and look forward to working with you and your Administration on
this important issue in the coming months. Representatives of the
Digital Privacy and Security Working Group are anxious to meet with
your staff at their earliest convenience to establish a consultation
abcd, The Microcomputer Industry Association Advanced Network &
American Civil Liberties Union
Apple Computer, Inc.
Business Software Alliance
Cavanagh Associates, Inc.
Cellular Telephone Industry Association
Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility Computer & Business
Equipment Manufacturers Association Computer & Communications
Industry Association Crest Industries, Inc.
Digital Equipment Corporation
Electronic Frontier Foundation
Electronic Mail Association
Information Technology Association of America Information
Lotus Development Corporation
McCaw Cellular Communications
RSA Data Security, Inc.
Software Publishers Association
Sun Microsystems, Inc.
Trusted Information Systems
United States Telephone Association
Today, Friday, May 14, 1993, the Digital Privacy and Security
Working Group sent its list of questions on to the President. The list
contained over 100 questions. A sample of the questions follows:
(for a complete list of the questions, please contact us at e...@eff.org)
"Why the secrecy in which the encryption code scheme was
developed? Were any members of the computer, communications, or
security industries consulted? Were any privacy experts consulted?
Has the Justice Department or the White House Office of Legal
Counsel considered the constitutional implications?"
"If American firms are not able to have their encryption experts
examine the algorithm, how can they be sure that there is no 'trap
door' that would allow any Clipper Chip security system to be
"Will this system be truly voluntary? If so, won't criminals and
terrorists just use some other type of encryption?"
"It appears that once a given chip has been compromised due to use
of the escrowed keys, the chip and the equipment it is used in are
vulnerable forever. Is there any mechanism or program to re-key or
replace compromised hardware? Is there any method for a potential
acquiring party to verify whether the keys on a given chip have
been compromised? Who should bear the cost of replacement or re-
keying of compromised hardware?"
"Who will be the agents for the keys? How secure will they be from
the outside and from the inside? What is the cost of maintaining the
escrow system? Who will pay? Who will profit?"
"If the Administration is so confident about the level of security of
the Clipper Chip scheme, why will classified information not be
encrypted with it?"
"Is law enforcement permitted to identify the specific piece of
communications equipment without obtaining a warrant? If
encrypted communications include the serial number ("chip family
key"), will law enforcement be able to keep track of communications
traffic and track private citizens without even securing the keys
from the escrow agents?"
"Does the escrow system violate the letter or the spirit of the Fourth
Amendment protections which safeguard citizens against intrusive
law enforcement practices?"
"Why weren't other Chip manufacturers given the chance to bid on
the chip production process? Why was the choice made to have only
"What testing has been done to verify the ability of Clipper to work
across the panoply of new emerging technologies? If the underlying
digital transport protocol drops a bit or two, will that interfere with
Clipper operation? How critical is synchronization of the bit stream
for Clipper operation? Has this technology been tested with ISDN,
TDMA, Cellular, CDMA Cellular, ATM, SONET, SMDS, etc. and other
emerging technologies? What effect does Clipper have on the
Cellular Authentication and Voice Encryption (CAVE) algorithm? Are
these differences for key generation, authentication, or voice
"If Clipper won't be commercially accepted abroad, and export
controls continue to prohibit the exportation of other encryption
schemes, isn't the US. government limiting American companies to a
"What governmental regulations will apply to imports of devices
containing the Clipper Chip? Given that most US. companies source
most customer premise equipment (e.g., telephones, fax machines,
etc.) offshore, how will the logistics be handled for the export of the
Clipper Chip as a component, and the subsequent import of the
device containing the chip? Will the US. permit non-US.
manufacturers to have the Clipper algorithm? If not, how will the
Administration justify this trade barrier?"
"There are a number of companies that employ non-escrowed
cryptography in their products today. These products range from
secure voice, data, and fax, to secure e-mail, electronic forms, and
software distribution, to name but a few. With over a million such
products in use today, what does the Clipper scheme foretell for
these products and the many corporations and individuals that are
invested in them and use them? Will the investment made by the
vendors in encryption-enhanced products be protected? If so, how?
Is it envisioned that they will add escrow features to their products
or be asked to employ Clipper?"
"If the outcome of the policy review is not pre-ordained, then the
process to analyze the issues and arrive at solutions would seem to
need a great deal of definition. What roles have been identified for
Congress, the private sector, and other interested parties? Who is
coordinating the process?"
On May 11, 1993, Whitfield Diffie, one of the original pioneers of the
public key encryption standard and Distinguished Engineer at Sun
Microsystems, Inc., testified before the House Subcommittee on
Science about his concerns with the Clipper Chip proposal.
Representative Rick Boucher (D-VA) heads that committee and
initiated these hearings to discuss security issues regarding the
National Research and Education Network (NREN). Here are some
highlights from Whitfield Diffie's testimony:
. . .
"In the month that has elapsed since the announcement, we have
studied the Clipper chip proposal as carefully as the available
information permits. We conclude that such a proposal is at best
premature and at worst will have a damaging effect on both business
security and civil rights without making any improvement in law
"To give you some idea of the importance of the issues this raises, I'd
like to suggest that you think about what are the most essential
security mechanisms in your daily life and work. I believe you will
realize that the most important things any of you ever do by way of
security have nothing to do with guards, fences, badges, or safes. Far
and away the most important element of your security is that you
recognize your family, your friends, and your colleagues. Probably
second to that is that you sign your signature, which provides the
people to whom you give letters, checks, or documents, with a way of
proving to third parties that you have said or promised something.
Finally you engage in private conversations, saying things to your
loved ones, your friends, or your staff that you do not wish to be
overheard by anyone else.
"These three mechanisms lean heavily on the physical: face to face
contact between people or the exchange of written messages. At this
moment in history, however, we are transferring our medium of
social interaction from the physical to the electronic at a pace limited
only by the development of our technology. Many of us spend half
the day on the telephone talking to people we may visit in person at
most a few times a year and the other half exchanging electronic
mail with people we never meet in person.
"Communication security has traditionally been seen as an arcane
security technology of real concern only to the military and perhaps
the banks and oil companies. Viewed in light of the observations
above, however, it is revealed as nothing less than the
transplantation of fundamental social mechanisms from the world of
face to face meetings and pen and ink communication into a world of
electronic mail, video conferences, electronic funds transfers,
electronic data interchange, and, in the not too distant future,
digital money and electronic voting.
"No right of private conversation was enumerated in the constitution.
I don't suppose it occurred to anyone at the time that it could be
"Now, however, we are on the verge of a world in which electronic
communication is both so good and so inexpensive that intimate
business and personal relationships will flourish between parties
who can at most occasionally afford the luxury of traveling to visit
each other. If we do not accept the right of these people to protect
the privacy of their communication, we take a long step in the
direction of a world in which privacy will belong only to the rich.
"The import of this is clear: The decisions we make about
communication security today will determine the kind of society we
live in tomorrow.
. . .
"Eavesdropping, as its name reminds us, is not a new phenomenon.
But in spite of the fact that police and spies have been doing it for a
long time, it has acquired a whole new dimension since the invention
of the telegraph.
"Prior to electronic communication, it was a hit or miss affair. Postal
services as we know them today are a fairly new phenomenon and
messages were carried by a variety of couriers, travelers, and
merchants. Sensitive messages in particular, did not necessarily go
by standardized channels. Paul Revere, who is generally remembered
for only one short ride, was the American Revolution's courier,
traveling routinely from Boston to Philadelphia with his saddle bags
full of political broadsides.
"Even when a letter was intercepted, opened, and read, there was no
guarantee, despite some people's great skill with flaps and seals, that
the victim would not notice the intrusion.
"The development of the telephone, telegraph, and radio have given
the spies a systematic way of intercepting messages. The telephone
provides a means of communication so effective and convenient that
even people who are aware of the danger routinely put aside their
caution and use it to convey sensitive information. Digital switching
has helped eavesdroppers immensely in automating their activities
and made it possible for them to do their listening a long way from
the target with negligible chance of detection.
. . .
"The law enforcement function of the Clipper system, as it has been
described, is not difficult to bypass. Users who have faith in the
secret Skipjack algorithm and merely want to protect themselves
from compromise via the Law Enforcement Exploitation Field, need
only encrypt that one item at the start of transmission. In many
systems, this would require very small changes to supporting
programs already present. This makes it likely that if Clipper chips
become as freely available as has been suggested, many products
will employ them in ways that defeat a major objective of the plan.
. . .
"I urge the committee to take what is good in the Administration's
proposal and reject what is bad.
o The Skipjack algorithm and every other aspect of this proposal
should be made public, not only to expose them to public scrutiny
but to guarantee that once made available as standards they will not
be prematurely withdrawn. Configuration control techniques
pioneered by the public community can be used to verify that some
pieces of equipment conform to government standards stricter than
the commercial where that is appropriate.
o I likewise urge the committee to recognize that the right
to private conversation must not be sacrificed as we move into a
telecommunicated world and reject the Law Enforcement Exploitation
Function and the draconian regulation that would necessarily come
o I further urge the committee to press the Administration
to accept the need for a sound international security technology
appropriate to the increasingly international character of the world's
The Computer System Security and Privacy Advisory Board of the
National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) will be holding
hearings on the Clipper Chip from June 2-4, 1993, at NIST in
Gaithersburg, MD. Public submissions are requested and are due by
4:00 p.m. EDT, May 27, 1993. Submissions should be sent to:
Cryptographic Issue Statements
Computer System Security and Privacy Advisory Board Technology
Building, Room B-154
National Institute of Standards and Technology Gaithersburg, MD
Submissions may also be sent electronically to:
For more information about the NIST meeting, including a more
detailed request for statements and an agenda, send a note to
**If you do submit anything to NIST, EFF would be interested in a
copy of your statement, as well. Thanks.**
. . .
"Issues on which comments are sought include the following:
"1. CRYPTOGRAPHIC POLICIES AND SOCIAL/PUBLIC POLICY ISSUES
"Public and Social policy aspects of the government-developed 'key
escrow' chip and, more generally, escrowed key technology and
government cryptographic policies.
"Issues involved in balancing various interests affected by
government cryptographic policies.
"2. LEGAL AND CONSTITUTIONAL ISSUES
"Consequences of the government-developed 'key escrow' chip
technology and, more generally, key escrow technology and
government cryptographic policies.
"3. INDIVIDUAL PRIVACY
"Issues and impacts of cryptographic-related statutes, regulations,
and standards, both national and international, upon individual
"Issues related to the privacy impacts of the government-developed
'key escrow' chip and 'key escrow' technology generally.
"4. QUESTIONS DIRECTED TO AMERICAN INDUSTRY
. . .
"5. QUESTIONS DIRECTED TO THE AMERICAN BUSINESS COMMUNITY
. . .
"Please describe any other impacts arising from Federal government
cryptographic policies and regulations.
"Please describe any other impacts upon the Federal government in
the protection of unclassified computer systems.
"Are there any other comments you wish to share?
"The Board agenda will include a period of time, not to exceed ten
hours, for oral presentations of summaries of selected written
statements submitted to the Board by May 27, 1993. As appropriate
and to the extent possible, speakers addressing the same topic will
be grouped together. Speakers, prescheduled by the Secretariat and
notified in advance, will be allotted fifteen to thirty minutes to orally
present their written statements. Individuals and organizations
submitting written materials are requested to advise the Secretariat
if they would be interested in orally summarizing their materials for
the Board at the meeting.
"Another period of time, not to exceed one hour, will be reserved for
oral comments and questions from the public. Each speaker will be
allotted up to five minutes; it will be necessary to strictly control the
length of presentations to maximize public participation and the
number of presentations.
"Except as provided for above, participation in the Board's
discussions during the meeting will be at the discretion of the
Designated Federal Official.
"Approximately thirty seats will be available for the public, including
three seats reserved for the media. Seats will be available on a first-
come, first-served basis.
"FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mr. Lynn McNulty, Executive
Secretary and Associate Director for Computer Security, Computer
Systems Laboratory, National Institute of Standards and Technology,
Building 225, Room B154, Gaithersburg, Maryland 20899, telephone:
"SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Background information on the
government-developed "key escrow" chip proposal is available from
the Board Secretariat; see address in 'for further information' section.
Also, information on the government-developed 'key escrow' chip is
available electronically from the NIST computer security bulletin
board, phone 301-948-5717.
"The Board intends to stress the public and social policy aspects, the
legal and Constitutional consequences of this technology, and the
impacts upon American business and industry during its meeting.
"It is the Board's intention to create, as a product of this meeting, a
publicly available digest of the important points of discussion,
conclusions (if any) that might be reached, and an inventory of the
policy issues that need to be considered by the government. Within
the procedures described above, public participation is encouraged
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