Note: This file will also be available via anonymous file transfer from csrc.ncsl.nist.gov in directory /pub/nistnews and via the NIST Computer Security BBS at 301-948-5717. --------------------------------------------------- THE WHITE HOUSE Office of the Press Secretary _________________________________________________________________ For Immediate Release April 16, 1993 STATEMENT BY THE PRESS SECRETARY The President today announced a new initiative that will bring the Federal Government together with industry in a voluntary program to improve the security and privacy of telephone communications while meeting the legitimate needs of law enforcement. The initiative will involve the creation of new products to accelerate the development and use of advanced and secure telecommunications networks and wireless communications links. For too long there has been little or no dialogue between our private sector and the law enforcement community to resolve the tension between economic vitality and the real challenges of protecting Americans. Rather than use technology to accommodate the sometimes competing interests of economic growth, privacy and law enforcement, previous policies have pitted government against industry and the rights of privacy against law enforcement. Sophisticated encryption technology has been used for years to protect electronic funds transfer. It is now being used to protect electronic mail and computer files. While encryption technology can help Americans protect business secrets and the unauthorized release of personal information, it also can be used by terrorists, drug dealers, and other criminals. A state-of-the-art microcircuit called the "Clipper Chip" has been developed by government engineers. The chip represents a new approach to encryption technology. It can be used in new, relatively inexpensive encryption devices that can be attached to an ordinary telephone. It scrambles telephone communications using an encryption algorithm that is more powerful than many in commercial use today. This new technology will help companies protect proprietary information, protect the privacy of personal phone conversations and prevent unauthorized release of data transmitted electronically. At the same time this technology preserves the ability of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies to intercept lawfully the phone conversations of criminals. A "key-escrow" system will be established to ensure that the "Clipper Chip" is used to protect the privacy of law-abiding Americans. Each device containing the chip will have two unique "keys," numbers that will be needed by authorized government agencies to decode messages encoded by the device. When the device is manufactured, the two keys will be deposited separately in two "key-escrow" data bases that will be established by the Attorney General. Access to these keys will be limited to government officials with legal authorization to conduct a wiretap. The "Clipper Chip" technology provides law enforcement with no new authorities to access the content of the private conversations of Americans. To demonstrate the effectiveness of this new technology, the Attorney General will soon purchase several thousand of the new devices. In addition, respected experts from outside the government will be offered access to the confidential details of the algorithm to assess its capabilities and publicly report their findings. The chip is an important step in addressing the problem of encryption's dual-edge sword: encryption helps to protect the privacy of individuals and industry, but it also can shield criminals and terrorists. We need the "Clipper Chip" and other approaches that can both provide law-abiding citizens with access to the encryption they need and prevent criminals from using it to hide their illegal activities. In order to assess technology trends and explore new approaches (like the key-escrow system), the President has directed government agencies to develop a comprehensive policy on encryption that accommodates: -- the privacy of our citizens, including the need to employ voice or data encryption for business purposes; -- the ability of authorized officials to access telephone calls and data, under proper court or other legal order, when necessary to protect our citizens; -- the effective and timely use of the most modern technology to build the National Information Infrastructure needed to promote economic growth and the competitiveness of American industry in the global marketplace; and -- the need of U.S. companies to manufacture and export high technology products. The President has directed early and frequent consultations with affected industries, the Congress and groups that advocate the privacy rights of individuals as policy options are developed. The Administration is committed to working with the private sector to spur the development of a National Information Infrastructure which will use new telecommunications and computer technologies to give Americans unprecedented access to information. This infrastructure of high-speed networks ("information superhighways") will transmit video, images, HDTV programming, and huge data files as easily as today's telephone system transmits voice. Since encryption technology will play an increasingly important role in that infrastructure, the Federal Government must act quickly to develop consistent, comprehensive policies regarding its use. The Administration is committed to policies that protect all Americans' right to privacy while also protecting them from those who break the law. Further information is provided in an accompanying fact sheet. The provisions of the President's directive to acquire the new encryption technology are also available. For additional details, call Mat Heyman, National Institute of Standards and Technology, (301) 975-2758. --------------------------------- QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS ABOUT THE CLINTON ADMINISTRATION'S TELECOMMUNICATIONS INITIATIVE Q: Does this approach expand the authority of government agencies to listen in on phone conversations? A: No. "Clipper Chip" technology provides law enforcement with no new authorities to access the content of the private conversations of Americans. Q: Suppose a law enforcement agency is conducting a wiretap on a drug smuggling ring and intercepts a conversation encrypted using the device. What would they have to do to decipher the message? A: They would have to obtain legal authorization, normally a court order, to do the wiretap in the first place. They would then present documentation of this authorization to the two entities responsible for safeguarding the keys and obtain the keys for the device being used by the drug smugglers. The key is split into two parts, which are stored separately in order to ensure the security of the key escrow system. Q: Who will run the key-escrow data banks? A: The two key-escrow data banks will be run by two independent entities. At this point, the Department of Justice and the Administration have yet to determine which agencies will oversee the key-escrow data banks. Q: How strong is the security in the device? How can I be sure how strong the security is? A: This system is more secure than many other voice encryption systems readily available today. While the algorithm will remain classified to protect the security of the key escrow system, we are willing to invite an independent panel of cryptography experts to evaluate the algorithm to assure all potential users that there are no unrecognized vulnerabilities. Q: Whose decision was it to propose this product? A: The National Security Council, the Justice Department, the Commerce Department, and other key agencies were involved in this decision. This approach has been endorsed by the President, the Vice President, and appropriate Cabinet officials. Q: Who was consulted? The Congress? Industry? A: We have on-going discussions with Congress and industry on encryption issues, and expect those discussions to intensify as we carry out our review of encryption policy. We have briefed members of Congress and industry leaders on the decisions related to this initiative. Q: Will the government provide the hardware to manufacturers? A: The government designed and developed the key access encryption microcircuits, but it is not providing the microcircuits to product manufacturers. Product manufacturers can acquire the microcircuits from the chip manufacturer that produces them. Q: Who provides the "Clipper Chip"? A: Mykotronx programs it at their facility in Torrance, California, and will sell the chip to encryption device manufacturers. The programming function could be licensed to other vendors in the future. Q: How do I buy one of these encryption devices? A: We expect several manufacturers to consider incorporating the "Clipper Chip" into their devices. Q: If the Administration were unable to find a technological solution like the one proposed, would the Administration be willing to use legal remedies to restrict access to more powerful encryption devices? A: This is a fundamental policy question which will be considered during the broad policy review. The key escrow mechanism will provide Americans with an encryption product that is more secure, more convenient, and less expensive than others readily available today, but it is just one piece of what must be the comprehensive approach to encryption technology, which the Administration is developing. The Administration is not saying, "since encryption threatens the public safety and effective law enforcement, we will prohibit it outright" (as some countries have effectively done); nor is the U.S. saying that "every American, as a matter of right, is entitled to an unbreakable commercial encryption product." There is a false "tension" created in the assessment that this issue is an "either-or" proposition. Rather, both concerns can be, and in fact are, harmoniously balanced through a reasoned, balanced approach such as is proposed with the "Clipper Chip" and similar encryption techniques. Q: What does this decision indicate about how the Clinton Administration's policy toward encryption will differ from that of the Bush Administration? A: It indicates that we understand the importance of encryption technology in telecommunications and computing and are committed to working with industry and public-interest groups to find innovative ways to protect Americans' privacy, help businesses to compete, and ensure that law enforcement agencies have the tools they need to fight crime and terrorism. Q: Will the devices be exportable? Will other devices that use the government hardware? A: Voice encryption devices are subject to export control requirements. Case-by-case review for each export is required to ensure appropriate use of these devices. The same is true for other encryption devices. One of the attractions of this technology is the protection it can give to U.S. companies operating at home and abroad. With this in mind, we expect export licenses will be granted on a case-by-case basis for U.S. companies seeking to use these devices to secure their own communications abroad. We plan to review the possibility of permitting wider exportability of these products.
Note: The following was released by the White House today in conjunction with the announcement of the Clipper Chip encryption technology. FACT SHEET PUBLIC ENCRYPTION MANAGEMENT The President has approved a directive on "Public Encryption Management." The directive provides for the following: Advanced telecommunications and commercially available encryption are part of a wave of new computer and communications technology. Encryption products scramble information to protect the privacy of communications and data by preventing unauthorized access. Advanced telecommunications systems use digital technology to rapidly and precisely handle a high volume of communications. These advanced telecommunications systems are integral to the infrastructure needed to ensure economic competitiveness in the information age. Despite its benefits, new communications technology can also frustrate lawful government electronic surveillance. Sophisticated encryption can have this effect in the United States. When exported abroad, it can be used to thwart foreign intelligence activities critical to our national interests. In the past, it has been possible to preserve a government capability to conduct electronic surveillance in furtherance of legitimate law enforcement and national security interests, while at the same time protecting the privacy and civil liberties of all citizens. As encryption technology improves, doing so will require new, innovative approaches. In the area of communications encryption, the U. S. Government has developed a microcircuit that not only provides privacy through encryption that is substantially more robust than the current government standard, but also permits escrowing of the keys needed to unlock the encryption. The system for the escrowing of keys will allow the government to gain access to encrypted information only with appropriate legal authorization. To assist law enforcement and other government agencies to collect and decrypt, under legal authority, electronically transmitted information, I hereby direct the following action to be taken: INSTALLATION OF GOVERNMENT-DEVELOPED MICROCIRCUITS The Attorney General of the United States, or her representative, shall request manufacturers of communications hardware which incorporates encryption to install the U.S. government-developed key-escrow microcircuits in their products. The fact of law enforcement access to the escrowed keys will not be concealed from the American public. All appropriate steps shall be taken to ensure that any existing or future versions of the key-escrow microcircuit are made widely available to U.S. communications hardware manufacturers, consistent with the need to ensure the security of the key-escrow system. In making this decision, I do not intend to prevent the private sector from developing, or the government from approving, other microcircuits or algorithms that are equally effective in assuring both privacy and a secure key-escrow system. KEY-ESCROW The Attorney General shall make all arrangements with appropriate entities to hold the keys for the key-escrow microcircuits installed in communications equipment. In each case, the key holder must agree to strict security procedures to prevent unauthorized release of the keys. The keys shall be released only to government agencies that have established their authority to acquire the content of those communications that have been encrypted by devices containing the microcircuits. The Attorney General shall review for legal sufficiency the procedures by which an agency establishes its authority to acquire the content of such communications. PROCUREMENT AND USE OF ENCRYPTION DEVICES The Secretary of Commerce, in consultation with other appropriate U.S. agencies, shall initiate a process to write standards to facilitate the procurement and use of encryption devices fitted with key-escrow microcircuits in federal communications systems that process sensitive but unclassified information. I expect this process to proceed on a schedule that will permit promulgation of a final standard within six months of this directive. The Attorney General will procure and utilize encryption devices to the extent needed to preserve the government's ability to conduct lawful electronic surveillance and to fulfill the need for secure law enforcement communications. Further, the Attorney General shall utilize funds from the Department of Justice Asset Forfeiture Super Surplus Fund to effect this purchase.
Note: The following material was handed out a press briefing on the Clipper Chip on 4/16. Chip Operation Microchip User's Message +----------------------+ -----------------> | | 1. Message encrypted | Encryption Algorithm | with user's key | | | Serial # | 2. User's key encrypted | |--> with chip unique key | Chip Unique Key | User's Encryption | | 3. Serial # encrypted Key | Chip Family Key | with chip family key -----------------> | | | | +----------------------+ For Law Enforcement to Read a Suspect's Message 1. Need to obtain court authorized warrant to tap the suspect's telephone. 2. Record encrypted message 3. Use chip family key to decrypt chip serial number 4. Take this serial number *and* court order to custodians of disks A and B 5. Add the A and B components for that serial number = the chip unique key for the suspect user 6. Use this key to decrypt the user's message key for this recorded message 7. Finally, use this message key to decrypt the recorded message.
I suppose we should have expected something after all of the sound and fury of the last few years. The announcement does not really give enough information though. My first thought involves conventional compromise: what happens if the keys are captured through theft *and you know about it* - how difficult is it to change the keys ? What do you do between the time the loss is detected and the time a new key set is approved. How difficult is it to program the chip or do you need a new one ? (and if the chip can be reprogrammed, how do you prevent covert changes that will not be discovered until authorization to tap is received and the agency finds out that it cannot ?). Potentially this must occur every time a trusted employee leaves. For some time, I have been playing with dynamic access cards ("tokens") as seeds for full session encryption rather than just for password devices. Since the encryption requires three parts (PIN, challenge, and token) which are only physically together at the secure system, and since only the challenge passes on the net, and since once encryption starts you have not only provided protection to the session, you have also authenticated both ends simultaneously (by the fact that you can communicate), it seems ideal. *And everything necessary already exists*. From several US companies. It just has not been put together as a commercial product (FUD at work 8*(. Since key generation is on-the-fly at the onset of the session, obviously what the gov needs is not the key but the "key to the key" (of course computers, even a PC, are really good at this. The real question is "Why a new chip ?" The technology to do this has been around for years and several DES chips are available commercially today. The BCC laptop (I like Beaver better 8*) 007 provides this internally today with (I believe) the LSI-Logic chip and Enigma-Logic's PC-SAFE (plugs) does the same with software alone. As indicated in the announcement, financial institutions have been using encrypted transmissions for years without any great outcry. IMHO the real hold-up has been $$$ - cheap error-correcting modem technology to prevent synch losses rather than a lack of good crypto algorithms. Today this is a done deal (actually we have known how to keep in synch since the sixties but you couldn't buy 56kb for under $300.00 at BizMart - now part of K-Mart ! - then). True, there are a lot of questions yet to be answered, but again IMHO most center on the exception cases and not the encryption technology itself. Padgett
I have just read with considerable interest the "White House Crypto Statement" posted to comp.society. Briefly, it announces a "Clipper Chip" that will provide voice and data encryption. Every chip will have two keys kept in two separate "key escrow" banks. Law enforcement officers needing to conduct a wire tap will get a court order, go to the key escrow banks, and then decrypt the messages. The encryption algorithm is secret, but a panel of cryptologists could be invited to inspect it. For more details, call Mat Heyman, NIST, (301) 975-2758 In the "Questions and Answers" section of the statement, the following text appears: > Q: If the Administration were unable to find a technological > solution like the one proposed, would the Administration be > willing to use legal remedies to restrict access to more > powerful encryption devices? > > A: This is a fundamental policy question which will be > considered during the broad policy review. [...] > ... Rather, both concerns can be, > and in fact are, harmoniously balanced through a reasoned, > balanced approach such as is proposed with the "Clipper > Chip" and similar encryption techniques. This is not entirely clear. Does it mean that the Administration might ban all encryption except for the Clipper Chip? If not, how would they stop criminals and terrorists from using something else? The Administration might sell these chips abroad. How will the Key Escrow system work then? How will the Administration handle free-trade issues? How can a non-US manufacturer export Clipper devices to the US without getting a look at the algorithm (which is secret). How would key escrow work with a non-US manufacturer? How will the algorithm be kept secret? What is to stop someone prying the device apart and examining the chip circuitry? *Why* is the algorithm secret? RSA is public and seems unbreakable. Ditto DES apart from a few known weaknesses. This smells of a hidden agenda. Could it be trade? Could it be part of a strategy to ban "bootleg" Clipper technology where foreign chips conform to the standard but do not have the keys in escrow. How will law enforcers match keys to chips? They won't have access to the chip serial number. Maybe the chip transmits its serial number every few seconds of transmission. If so then we have a nice way of doing traffic analysis and tracking on suspects (or anyone else) without needing the keys. Paul Johnson (email@example.com). | Tel: +44 245 73331 ext 3245
As soon as the official press release on the Clipper chip was posted a barrage of posts concerned with the safety and RISKS of said chip smothered the net. Nearly all of them were negative. For those of you who missed it, the Clipper Chip is purported to be the 'Officially Sanctioned' cryptographic cypher chip. The feature that everyone is getting upset about is that the FBI will have the only general de-cypher box. Furthermore, the algorithm for encryption is secret. My concern about this whole scheme is greater than I can express here. I'm sure the next couple of RISKS forums will be filled with messages concerning the Clipper Chip, but for what it's worth, here's my $0.02: I am concerned that this is the first step towards banning any other encryption device that does not use the CC. I am concerned that if there *exists* a general de-cypher box, it can be stolen/hacked/duplicated/captured by aliens. I am concerned about the fact that the encryption algorithm is secret. There is no way we can be sure the algorithm is sufficiently secure. Key length is not the only factor in telling how secure an algorithm is. An encryption scheme should be secure even if the algorithm is known. I am concerned that if this thing takes off in the States, other countries will not follow, making international communications no more secure. And is other countries do follow, there will be more than one decrypt-box, which in turn will multiply the risks of one of these boxes being stolen hacked/corrupted in any other way. This box will be become a *hot* item for organised crime. (Why do I keep seeing scenes from 'Sneakers'?) In short: I think this whole CC thing is an ungood idea, and I hope for everyone who values his privacy that it will never lift-off. --Ralph Moonen
In the light of the recent Clipper announcement, forum readers may wish to revisit the discussions of "Who Holds the Keys?". A good place to start, in addition to some of the material in CACM of March 1993 (which relates mainly to the FBI's digital telephony initiative), is Proceedings of the 2nd Conference on Computers, Freedom, and Privacy (order no. 533921 from ACM Press, 1515 Broadway, New York NY 10036. The same discussion is available on audiotape from Audio Archives International, 800 747-8069 and on videotape from Sweet Pea Productions, 800 235-4922 (firstname.lastname@example.org). Professor Lance J. Hoffman, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, The George Washington University, Washington, D. C. 20052 (202) 994-4955 fax: (202) 994-0227 email@example.com
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