The Risks Digest

The RISKS Digest

Forum on Risks to the Public in Computers and Related Systems

ACM Committee on Computers and Public Policy, Peter G. Neumann, moderator

Volume 15 Issue 50

Thursday 10 February 1994

Contents

o Re: Dorothy Denning's contribution to RISKS-15.48 on EES/Clipper/etc.
Barbara Simons
Marc Rotenberg
George T. Talbot
Lance J. Hoffman
Fredrick B. Cohen
A. Padgett Peterson
Geoff Kuenning
o Info on RISKS (comp.risks)

Re: Campaign and Petition Against Clipper (Denning, RISKS-15.48)

"Barbara Simons" <simons@vnet.IBM.COM>
Thu, 10 Feb 94 13:48:52 PST
In RISKS-15.48, 9 Feb 1994, Dorothy Denning states:

>As near as I know, neither CPSR nor any other group has conducted any
>systematic poll of industry, professional societies, or the public.  While
>many people have voiced opposition, there are many more organizations and
>people who have been silent on this issue.  The ACM is in the process of
>conducting a study on encryption.  CPSR is a member of the study group, as am
>I.  Steve Kent is chair.  Our goal is a report that will articulate the
>issues, not a public statement either for or against.  The International
>Association for Cryptologic Research has not to my knowledge made any official
>statement about Clipper.

I am chair of USACM, which is the new U.S. Public Policy Committee of ACM.
A few months ago we asked Steve Kent to chair a panel that would study
encryption policy in the U.S. and produce a report for ACM.  As Dorothy
mentions, she is on the panel, together with several other illustrious
individuals, including the esteemed moderator of RISKS.  I have included the
list of panelists at the end of this note.  CPSR is no more a member of the
panel than are the National Security Agency or the Department of Justice.
The panel does have members who are affiliated with all three organizations.

I am certain that Dorothy did not intend to give the impression that the
ACM panel has decided that ACM will not have a public position on Clipper.
However, since her email might have been misinterpreted by some readers,
I want to clarify that, while ACM has not taken a position on Clipper,
there has not been any decision made within ACM of which I am aware that
prevents ACM from taking a position at some future time.  In addition,
it is my understanding that there has been no final determination made by
the panel of precisely what the report will or will not contain.

Barbara Simons, Chair USACM

The members of the ACM encryption policy panel are:

  Dr. Clint Brooks, National Security Agency
  Scott Charney, Department of Justice
  Dr. Dorothy Denning, Georgetown University
  Dr. Whitfield Diffie, Sun Microsystems Inc.
  Dr. Anthony Lauck, Digital Equipment Corporation
  Douglas Miller, Software Publishers Association
  Dr. Peter Neumann, SRI International
  Dave Sobel, Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility

  Chair: Dr. Stephen Kent, Bolt Beranek & Newman
  Staff: Dr. Susan Landau, University of Massachusetts


Re: CPSR Clipper Campaign

Marc Rotenberg <Marc_Rotenberg@washofc.cpsr.org>
Thu, 10 Feb 1994 16:07:13 EST
Dorothy Denning has raised important questions about the Clipper proposal.  As
she says "the issues are extremely complex and difficult."  Below I've tried
to answer the points she has raised.  I apologize in advance to RISKS readers
who know all of this.

Please read her comments and my response.  Speak with others interested in the
Clipper proposal.  If on balance, after reviewing the arguments, you decide
Clipper is a mistake then you should express your opposition by sending a
message to:

     CLIPPER.PETITION@CPSR.ORG

with the words

     "I oppose Clipper"

in the subject header.  If you have already signed the petition, ask a friend
or colleague to sign.

Your help is needed.

Marc Rotenberg, director, CPSR Washington office

<>  The Clipper proposal, developed in secret by the
<>  National Security Agency, is a technical standard
<>  that will make it easier for government agents to
<>  wiretap the emerging data highway.

>  The standard (FIPS 185) is not a standard for the
>  Internet or any other high speed computer network.  It
>  is for the telephone system.

The letter to the President makes clear that we are concerned about "Clipper
and associated standards" which include the Capstone EES configuration for
data transmission.

It is clearly the intent of the EES proposal to cover both voice and data
transmissions.

>  The standard will not make it any easier to tap phones,
>  let alone computer networks.  All it will do is make it
>  technically possible to decrypt communications that are
>  encrypted with the standard, assuming the communications
>  are not superencrypted with something else.

This is a little bit like saying that leaving a master key for every house on
your block with the police will not make it easier for the police to open
locked doors.

We may disagree about whether this is a good idea, but let's be clear about
the intent of the proposal.

>  The purpose of the standard is to provide a very strong
>  encryption algorithm - something much stronger than DES
>  - and to do so in a way that does not thwart law
>  enforcement and national security objectives.  Keys are
>  escrowed so that if someone uses this technology, they
>  cannot use it against national interests.

The NSA is responsible for foreign signal interception.  It has no legal
authority to conduct wire surveillance.  What are the NSA's "national
security" interests in domestic wire surveillance?

<>  Industry groups, professional associations and
<>  civil liberties organizations have expressed almost
<>  unanimous opposition to the plan since it was first
<>  proposed in April 1993.

<>  The private sector and the public have expressed
<>  nearly unanimous opposition to Clipper.

>  As near as I know, neither CPSR nor any other group has
>  conducted any systematic poll of industry, professional
>  societies, or the public.

To the best of my knowledge, there has never been a proposed technical
standard that generated more opposition.  Firms across the telecommunications
and computer industry oppose Clipper.  Computer security people and
cryptographers oppose Clipper.  Privacy experts oppose Clipper.

<>  The Administration ignored the overwhelming
<>  opposition of the general public. When the Commerce
<>  Department solicited public comments on the
<>  proposal last fall, hundreds of people opposed the
>  plan while only a few expressed support.

>  Hundreds of people is hardly overwhelming in a
>  population of 250 million, especially when most of the
>  letters were the same and came in through the net
>  following a sample letter that was sent out.

I would encourage Dorothy, or anyone else, to take a poll of any
representative user group -- RISKS readers perhaps -- if there is any doubt
about how the public feels about the proposal.

<>  The technical standard is subject to misuse and
<>  compromise. It would provide government agents with
<>  copies of the keys that protect electronic
<>  communications. "It is a nightmare for computer
<>  security."

>  I have been one of the reviewers of the standard.  We
>  have completed our review of the encryption algorithm,
>  SKIPJACK, and concluded it was very strong.  While we
>  have not completed our review of the key escrow system,
>  from what I have seen so far, I anticipate that it will
>  provide an extremely high level of security for the
>  escrowed keys.

Dorothy endorsed the proposal before she joined the "review" team.  The group
that she refers to, a White House task force, has an interesting history.  The
majority of cryptographers asked to participate declined.

<>  The underlying technology was developed in secret
<>  by the NSA, an intelligence agency responsible for
<>  electronic eavesdropping, not privacy protection.
<>  Congressional investigations in the 1970s disclosed
<>  widespread NSA abuses, including the illegal
<>  interception of millions of cables sent by American
<>  citizens.

>  NSA is also responsible for the development of
>  cryptographic codes to protect the nation's most
>  sensitive classified information.  They have an
>  excellent track record in conducting this mission.

Senator Frank Church, who conducted the most extensive hearings ever held on
the National Security Agency, said that the NSA's intelligence gathering
capabilities were important for the security of the United States.  He also
said that the massive eavesdropping capability created "A tremendous potential
for abuse." If ever turned against the communications system of the United
States:

  no American would have any privacy left . . . there
  would be no place to hide.

  We must see to it that this agency and all agencies
  that possess this technology operate within the law and
  under proper supervision, so that we never cross
  over that abyss.  That is an abyss from which there
  is no return. " (NBC Meet the Press, 1975)

<>  Computer security experts question the integrity of
<> the technology. Clipper was developed in secret and
<>  its specifications are classified.

>  The 5 of us who reviewed the algorithm unanimously
>  agreed that it was very strong.  We will publish a final
>  report when we complete or full evaluation. Nothing can
>  be concluded from a statement questioning the technology
>  by someone who has not seen it regardless of whether
>  that person is an expert in security.

The original CPSR letter to the President, asking for the withdrawal of
Clipper, was signed by Hellman, Rivest, Diffie, Merkle, and others.  Many more
experts are adding their names daily to the CPSR petition.

<>  NSA overstepped its legal authority in developing
<>  the standard.  A 1987 law explicitly limits the
<>  intelligence agency's power to set standards for
<>  the nation's communications network.

>  The 1987 Computer Security Act states that NIST "shall
>  draw on the technical advice and assistance (including
>  work products) of the National Security Agency."

The original replacement for DES, proposed by the Department of Commerce in
1989, would have had these characteristics:

-- public, unclassified
-- implementable in both hardware or software
-- usable by federal Agencies and U.S. based multi-national corporation
-- a level of security sufficient for the protection of unclassified,
   sensitive information and commercial propriety and/or valuable information.

The final proposal, developed with the "technical assistance" of the NSA, has
these characteristics.

-- The Clipper algorithm Skipjack is classified
-- Public access to the reasons underlying the proposal is restricted
-- Skipjack can be implemented only in tamper-proof hardware
-- It will not be used by multi-national corporations
-- The security of the configuration remains unproven.

The Computer Security Act was passed precisely because the NSA tried
previously to grab civilian computer security turf.  The law was specifically
intended to control the type of abuse that results from secret
standard-setting arrangements.

If there any doubt among RISKS readers about the illegal activities of the NSA
in the development of the EES, please consult the minutes of the NSA/NIST
Technical Working Group (TWG) that produced the standard.  The minutes should
be available from the National Security Agency Public Information Office.
That phone number is 301/688-6524.

<>  There is no evidence to support law enforcement's
<>  claims that new technologies are hampering criminal
<>  investigations. CPSR recently forced the release of
<>  FBI documents that show no such problems.

>  CPSR obtained some documents from a few FBI field
>  offices.  Those offices reported no problems.  CPSR did
>  not get reports from all field offices and did not get
>  reports from local law enforcement agencies.  I can tell
>  you that it is a fact that new communications
>  technologies, including encryption, have hampered
>  criminal investigations.

The statement is illogical.  There is still no evidence to support the FBI's
claims.

The FBI made certain claims that cryptography was impeding criminal
investigation conducted by wiretap.  CPSR investigated the FBI's claims by
filing a Freedom of Information Act suit to obtain the relevant documents.
The documents provided to us by the Department of Justice revealed that none
of the FBI field officers had encountered any obstacles.  The Department of
Justice has just informed us that they provided to us all relevant documents
concerning the Clipper proposal.

There is one reported case where cryptography made it difficult for law
enforcement to obtain evidence. That case concerned reading the contents of a
file on a hard disk after it was seized.

If this is the problem that the Clipper proposal is intended to solve, then
the key escrow scheme must be extended to every single encrypted file -- not
just encrypted communications -- everywhere in the world.

Every encrypted file. Everywhere.

<>  If the plan goes forward, commercial firms that
<>  hope to develop new products will face extensive
<>  government obstacles. Cryptographers who wish to
<>  develop new privacy enhancing technologies will be
<>  discouraged.

>  The standard is voluntary -- even for the government.

An FBI legislative proposal now under consideration at the White House would
mandate a Clipper-like scheme.  That proposal is backed by fines up to $10,000
per day and jail time.

That's not voluntary.

<>  Mr. Rotenberg said "We want the public to
<>  understand the full implications of this plan.
<>  Today it is only a few experts and  industry groups
<>  that understand the proposal.

>  I support this objective.  Unfortunately, it is not
>  possible for most of us to be fully informed of the
>  national security implications of uncontrolled
>  encryption.  For very legitimate reasons, these cannot
>  be fully discussed and debated in a public forum.

This assertion has never been supported by evidence.  It has been used simply
to stifle criticism.

>  The Feb. 4 decision was made
>  following an inter-agency policy review, headed by the
>  National Security Council, that examined these issues
>  using considerable input from industry, CPSR, EFF, and
>  individuals as well as from law enforcement and
>  intell

CPSR did not participate in the inter-agency policy review.  Our position from
the very beginning is that these decisions must be made openly.

>  In the absence of understanding
>  the national security issues, I believe we need to
>  exercise some caution in believing that we can
>  understand the full implications of encryption on
>  society.

This premise, if accepted, would mean that people in the United States would
have no right to express political views when the government claimed "national
security." Certainly, there are matters of national security that must be
protected, but when an agency with expertise in wire surveillance develops a
secret standard for eavesdropping and tells those who raise questions that
there are matters of national security that they would not understand, there
is good reason for concern.

If you believe that Clipper is a mistake, please express your views by sending
email with the words "I oppose Clipper" in the subject header to
CLIPPER.PETITION@CPSR.ORG.

   [In the following messages, I have pruned back radically on the
   included repetitions of Dorothy's original message.  I hope I have not
   lost any threads...  Refer back to RISKS-15.48 if you are in doubt.  PGN]


Re: Campaign and Petition Against Clipper

George T. "14K F/D" Talbot <ugtalbot@king.mcs.drexel.edu>
Wed, 9 Feb 94 22:16:51 EST
I would like to comment upon a few points raised by Dr. Denning:

>The decisions that have been made were not made lightly.

While I appreciate the sentiments expressed by Dr. Denning here, I'm
sure that those who oppose the Clipper initiative are also intelligent and
have also worked very hard to make their concerns known.  I have studied this
issue actively and I assure you that I did not sign the petition "lightly".

>The standard (FIPS 185) is not a standard for the Internet or any other high
>speed computer network.

While the Clipper initiative only covers the phone system, the entire proposal
(Clipper and Capstone and the key escrow system) will touch the high-speed
networks and should be taken as a whole.

>...assuming
>the communications are not superencrypted with something else.  Law
>enforcers still need to get a court order just to intercept the
>communications in the first place...

There are two points to address here.  First, it is currently very difficult
to produce and export cryptographic software of any significant strength due
to export controls.  A private entity which has the resources to produce a
strong cryptographic solution will have to invest a great deal to produce such
software.  The current export controls would make it impossible for such an
entity to compete on the world market, thus limiting profit, possibly to the
point of non-profitability.  This makes superencryption pretty unlikely, and
this is one of the purposes of the current export controls on encryption.
Also at issue is whether the government will outlaw non-Clipper/Capstone/Key
Escrow encryption entirely.

Second, law enforcement needs to get a court order to intercept phone
communications.  I know of no such need to get a court order to intercept
communications on a high speed network w.r.t. Capstone.  The current
administration proposal does not require a court order to get the escrowed
keys themselves.

>     The Administration ignored the overwhelming opposition of the
>     general public. When the Commerce Department solicited public
>     comments on the proposal last fall, hundreds of people opposed the
>     plan while only a few expressed support.
>
>Hundreds of people is hardly overwhelming in a population of 250 million,
>especially when most of the letters were the same and came in through the net
>following a sample letter that was sent out.

Currently the community which is informed on this issue is rather small.  It
is unclear whether that population of 250 million would support the initiative
if they were fully informed.  Assuming the people which responded to the
Commerce Department solicitation is representative of the public at large,
it is clear that this is not a popular initiative outside of government/
law enforcement/national security circles.

>I have been one of the reviewers of the standard.  We have completed our
>review of the encryption algorithm, SKIPJACK, and concluded it was very
>strong.  While we have not completed our review of the key escrow system, from
>what I have seen so far, I anticipate that it will provide an extremely high
>level of security for the escrowed keys.

I'm sure that the committee which reviewed the algorithm made as accurate
an assessment of the algorithm they could in the limited time they were given.
What the NSA refuses to answer on this point is whether it, or the rest of the
national security community will use the escrow system.  If the [national
security] community does not sign up [for the key escrow system], then the
escrow system will be effectively compromised.

>...I am not aware of any recent evidence
>that the NSA is engaging in illegal intercepts of Americans...

From what I understand, the Act was passed in response to the incident in the
1970s.  Just because one doesn't have evidence doesn't mean that abuses don't
exist, and one can't make basic policy decisions based upon that.  When
considering important policy like this, one has to actively consider the risks
of abuse.

>...

From what current reports show, NSA pushed the proposal through NIST, and it
was NSA, not NIST, which was the true author and sponsor of the initiative.
They were operating on a "gray area" where because they were the only source
for the standard considered, they effectively set the standard without
explicitly violating the law.

>...  I can tell you that it
>is a fact that new communications technologies, including encryption, have
>hampered criminal investigations.  I personally commend law enforcement for
>trying to get out in front of this problem.

Dr. Denning, would you, as a service to RISKS readers, disclose your evidence
of how encryption has hampered criminal investigations?  And how often?  And
what kind of investigations were hampered?

>...  In the absence of understanding the national security issues, I
>believe we need to exercise some caution in believing that we can understand
>the full implications of encryption on society.

I disagree and Dr. Denning contradicts herself.  If the decision is made at
those levels, the public will not be informed.  This policy is too important
to relegate to a back room.

George T. Talbot


Clipper standard came close to being not only for phones

"Lance J. Hoffman" <hoffman@seas.gwu.edu>
Thu, 10 Feb 1994 08:28:46 -0500 (EST)
Dorothy Denning wrote in RISKS Forum:

> The [Clipper] standard (FIPS 185) is not a standard for the Internet or any
> other high speed computer network.  It is for the telephone system.  Quoting
> from FIPS 185: "Data for purposes of this standard includes voice, facsimile

It apparently came close to covering everything.  I have heard from several
people at NIST describing the general unhappiness there about the EES.  One
wrote to me:

> Three weeks ago, Ray Kammer {the deputy director} and Mike Rubin {the
> general counsel} here told people to rewrite the FIPS 185 {the EES}, which
> was in draft form, so that the standard applied to all electronic
> communications, including those not covered under the then current language.
> They refused, even walked out of the meeting, saying that it just could not
> be done.  Ray Kammer backed down, and the FIPS went out w/o the
> all-inclusive language.

{remarks in curly brackets added by L Hoffman for explanation}

In any case, that point may be somewhat moot because Capstone applies to data!


Re: Denning's thoughts on the Clipper Chip

Fredrick B. Cohen <fc@Jupiter.SAIC.Com>
Thu, 10 Feb 94 06:11:05 PST
>The standard (FIPS 185) is not a standard for the Internet or any other high
>speed computer network. ...

The language sounds to me like it covers ISDN which is rapidly becoming the
standard for non-local networking, all switched circuits, which will soon
include most cable systems, and standard commercial modems carry the vast
majority of all current computer communications.  What do you think the
superhighway is going to be made of?  We have AT+T trying for the twisted pair
as the standard, and the cable companies going for a cable version, and some
chasing optical, but it is all circuit switched at one point or another.

> ...  The standard will make it much
>harder for anyone to conduct illegal taps, including the government.

For someone who lived through Watergate and Irangate and all the other
gates, I am amazed that you can still take this position.  It only means
that the class of people who will be able to get the information will be
restricted to the richer and more powerful.  Anyone familiar with the
telephone system today knows that to tap a line requires only that the FBI
tell the telephone company the phone number.  The rest happens in a matter
of seconds.  With clipper, it will be the same way.

> ...  Keys are escrowed so that if someone uses this technology, they cannot
> use it against national interests.

How much do these escrow agents get paid, and how well are their families
protected?  How many guards watch them continuously? Who are we kidding?
US Nuclear codes were leaked to the Soviets at the height of the cold war.
Do you really think that we will protect these escrow agents any better?

>As near as I know, neither CPSR nor any other group has conducted any
>systematic poll ...

I know for a fact that most of the major telecommunications providers are
worried that Clipper will be made the standard.  The reason is that they need
better protection and they have to be able to do more things more flexibly
than Clipper allows.  They also don't want to have to pay the company who
makes clipper a fortune to use a technology they don't want to use.

>Hundreds of people is hardly overwhelming in a population of 250 million ...

Do you claim to believe that the great silent majority is in favor of Clipper?
Actually, hundreds of people who opposed it against only a few who supported
it would tend to indicate that 245 Million oppose it and 5 million are in
favor.  Not that this was a statistically valid sample.  After all, the people
who oppose it are probably more knowledgeable than the general public.

>... concluded it was very strong.  ...

In the light of 5,000 years of cryptographic history where experts claimed
that systems were very strong only to find them broken soon after, I find it
hard to trust the hand picked committee of 5 so-called experts who are given
money and time to pass judgement on a technology that is so weak that they are
afraid to expose it to the light of day.  If it is so strong, why not let the
rest of the world review it? The German experts said the same thing about
Enigma, and lots of US experts said the same thing about 

Clipper Chip Politics

A. Padgett Peterson <padgett@tccslr.dnet.mmc.com>
Thu, 10 Feb 94 09:11:08 -0500
At first I was astounded by the hysteria over the Clipper chip but have come
to the conclusion that it is really a matter of Politics and Money - technical
worth has nothing to do with it.

Have just finished reading the Cantwell Bill text on export controls and have
come to a similar conclusion. Lots of good sounding words modified by vague
exclusions. (Could not tell if PGP was permitted since all the user has to do
is install or excluded since each user must generate a unique key).

Clearly, if I were to design a custom mechanism for a client and the client
had the only copies in existence, the old rules would apply & if the client
were "offshore" I would be in violation.

According to the EFF, Mrs. Denning and I must be the only people publicly on
the net who are in favor of Clipper/Capstone as a cheap means for very simple
limited protection. It will fill the great void that exists between that which
*should* be protected and that which *is* being protected.

In the last few months, virtually every RFP I have seen deals with protection
of "Sensitive but Unclassified" information. Presently, this is done with
STU-IIIs and DES. Clunky. Ex$pen$ive. Requires effort to initiate.

Government agencies faced with field offices, telecommuting, and
electronic filing desperately need something that is
1) Cheap
2) Easy to use
3) Blessed by the Government
4) Sufficient to deter hackers and reporters

- not because they are personally concerned about disclosure but because
public law 93-579 (Privacy Act) and public law 100-235 (Computer Security Act)
says they *will*. And for these uses Clipper/Capstone is *good enough* (C).

People bemoan the fact that the government is creating a self-indulgent
monopoly, but I have not seen anyone else rushing to fill the gap (three years
ago I outlined both in magazines and at conferences a very simple means for
access tokens/smart cards such as those from Enigma-Logic, Racal, and
Secure-ID to be used to securely encrypt remote dial-up sessions. No one was
interested. I have not seen ads for the Beaver BCC-007 encrypted laptop
computer lately either.

To me the whole key escrow procedure is a legal sop, I fully expect certain
government agencies to be able to break any transmission within seconds given
the right equipment and all of the keys (not necessarily who has which, just
*all* of them), but I do not really care since anything that needs more
protection will just receive stronger encryption before C/C ever sees it. The
real value is for authentication and protection from volume analysis. (Today,
it is easy to tell which of my missives are protected and which are not. How
much and where can be valuable information even without reading the contents.
With C/C you will have to decode everything to find out which is important and
which is a take-away order).

The NSA/FBI meeting at Bellcore included an assertion that a "National
Laboratory" would be required to reverse engineer the chip.  Does anyone think
that it would not be easier/cheaper to simply buy someone on the inside ?
"Security by Obscurity" may be effective for short durations and limited value
objectives but we are talking strategic value here.

Thus in my opinion, the whole broohah is a smoke-screen. C/C is going to
happen, it will do what it is supposed to, it will become a standard since it
is going to be cheap and enough, and some organizations are going to make
billions of dollars off it - that is just the American Way.

I still want some to play with.  Padgett


Re: Campaign and Petition Against Clipper

Geoff Kuenning <geoff@FICUS.CS.UCLA.EDU>
Thu, 10 Feb 94 13:48:28 -0800
In RISKS-15.48, Dorothy Denning combines some good points with some very
paternalistic and unsupportable claims.  I will primarily address the latter.

>... The Clipper initiative is the result of
>considerable deliberation by many intelligent people who appreciate and
>understand the concerns that have been expressed and who worked hard to
>accommodate the conflicting interests.  The decisions that have been made were
>not made lightly.

In other words, despite the fact that many intelligent and well-informed
people *oppose* Clipper, "we know best, so stop complaining."  The fact that
the decision was made by well-intentioned people does not make it correct.

>The standard (FIPS 185) is not a standard for the Internet or any other high
>speed computer network.  It is for the telephone system.

In the first place, many people access the Internet via various forms of
telephone lines.  If they are encrypted, it will be easier to tap them if they
use Clipper.  In the second place, the Administration has been quite up-front
about its desire to force key-escrow encryption into nearly every encryption
application.  So while Ms. Denning is technically correct in her narrow
reading of the document, CPSR is equally correct in raising an alarm about the
larger issue of high-speed networks.

>As near as I know, neither CPSR nor any other group has conducted any
>systematic poll ...

Ah, the old "silent majority" argument.  I thought that went out when Nixon
resigned.

The truth is that, among the tiny fraction of the public which has expressed
an opinion, there *has* been overwhelming public opposition.  Very few people
have written the Government to say, "my, what a wonderful idea!"

Organizations like TV networks have a multiplier rule they apply to letters,
where they figure that every letter received represents N people who felt the
same way, but didn't take the time to write.  To suggest that only one's
opposition took the time to write, and that everyone else is in agreement, is
at best disingenuous and at worst intellectually dishonest.

> The ACM is in the process of
>conducting a study on encryption.  CPSR is a member of the study group, as am
>I.  Steve Kent is chair.  Our goal is a report that will articulate the
>issues, not a public statement either for or against.

In other words, having attempted to discredit what little data we *do* have,
Ms. Denning is stating that there are no plans to conduct a scientific study
of public opinion.  Perhaps the ACM or the CPSR should fund Roper or Gallup to
investigate a few questions, approved by both Ms. Denning and a CPSR
representative as being unbiased?

> The International Association for Cryptologic Research has not to my
> knowledge made any official statement about Clipper.

I don't see what relevance this has to anything.  One organization of
cryptologists has remained silent.  So what?

> Hundreds of people is hardly overwhelming in a population of 250 million,
> especially when most of the letters were the same and came in through the net
> following a sample letter that was sent out.

The first part of this statement is patently false; the same argument
could be applied to any Harris poll.  The second part, about "form
letter" distortions in public issues, is relevant and important.  All
the more reason to do a more scientific survey.

> ...  I do not know the facts of the 1970s
> incident that is referred to here, but it sounds like it occurred before
> passage of the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.  This act requires
> intelligence agencies to get a court order in order to intercept
> communications of American citizens.

The 1978 act was passed in response to the abuses of the early 70's.  It
should not have been necessary, since the NSA was prohibited from domestic
spying even before that, but the NSA figured that since the cables involved
were international communications, it was OK to eavesdrop on them.  This is a
rather classic case illustrating the way the NSA used the loosest possible
interpretation of restrictions, rather than actively trying to respect the
privacy of law-abiding citizens.

> I am not aware of any recent evidence
> that the NSA is engaging in illegal intercepts of Americans.

Once burned, twice cautious.  Ms. Denning, think of the egg you'll have on
your face if the NSA gets caught misbehaving a few years from now.
Personally, I don't see why I should trust any person or agency that is so
secretive.

> The 1987 Computer Security Act states that NIST "shall draw on the technical
> advice and assistance (including work products) of the National Security
> Agency."

The question is of who was in control.  There is a world of difference between
drawing on "advice and assistance," and stepping out of the picture to let
someone else do the job.  I believe that the latter is what CPSR is worried
about.

> ... I can tell you that it
> is a fact that new communications technologies, including encryption, have
> hampered criminal investigations.

Without data or references, how are we to believe this?  CPSR carried out, at
great difficulty, some preliminary research.  There is no indication that they
selected that data, and I hope that Ms. Denning is not suggesting this.
Again, we have an attempt to invoke the "silent majority" argument to claim
that the sampled data is invalid.  Only this time Ms. Denning doesn't even
offer anything to back up her counterclaim.

In the first place, let's have some facts here.  What criminal
investigations have been hampered by new technologies?  How many?

In the second place, a pervasive thread in Ms. Denning's thinking seems to be
that there is no room for a tradeoff between law enforcement and freedom.  Let
me point out that crime would drop tremendously if the police were allowed to
search anyone's home at random, without warning, and to confiscate anything
they chose.  But I don't think I'd want to live in such a society.  Similarly,
I'm perfectly willing to let a few criminal investigations be "hampered" or
even fail, if it means I can use strong encryption without fear of
eavesdropping or prosecution.

> The standard is voluntary -- even for the government.

That's not what I remember.  I seem to recall that the original announcement
said that the standard would be applicable to all government agencies.  Is
there a citation to support the claim that it's voluntary within the
government?

As to outside the government, yes, it's voluntary.  For now.  But there are
already major pressures being applied to make sure that this "voluntary"
standard is the only practical choice.  For example, Clipper will be much
easier to export than RSA, Idea, or even the venerable Enigma.  Government
dollars are being used to make sure that the Clipper chip is available and
cheap, undercutting the possibility of fair free-market competition.  And
hints have been dropped that any future encryption made available to the
public will also require a key escrow scheme.

    Geoff Kuenning  geoff@ficus.cs.ucla.edu geoff@ITcorp.com

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