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EPIC Alert 4.07 [1997] EPICAlert 7


Volume 4.07 May 8, 1997

Published by the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC)
Washington, D.C.

Table of Contents

[1] House Subcommittee Approves Encryption Bill
[2] EPIC Testifies on SSA Privacy
[3] White House Task Force Issues Privacy Paper
[4] Global Coalition Protests German CompuServe Prosecution
[5] Digital Wiretapping Update
[6] Become a Statistic -- WWW Survey Now Underway
[7] New Compilation of Privacy Laws
[8] Upcoming Conferences and Events

[1] House Subcommittee Approves Encryption Bill

On April 30, the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts andIntellectual Property approved the Security and Freedom ThroughEncryption (SAFE) Act, legislation designed to liberalize exportcontrols and affirm the right of Americans to use encryption.
Prior to the subcommittee action, a broad-based coalition of 27organizations expressed support for the legislation but urgedreconsideration of a provision that would criminalize the use ofencryption "in furtherance of the commission of a criminaloffense." The Internet Privacy Coalition members wrote that,
"While well-intended, the provision could have a series ofunintended consequences that would easily undermine the otherdesirable features of the bill."

During the subcommittee deliberations, Rep. Zoe Lofgren noted thecoalition letter and expressed her concern with thecriminalization provision. She said she wants to accommodate theconcerns raised by the coalition before the full Committee finallyacts on the bill (expected within the next two weeks).
Subcommittee Chair Howard Coble indicated his willingness to workwith Rep. Lofgren and Rep. Bob Goodlatte (principal sponsor of theSAFE Act) to address the issue at the full Committee level.

Sen. Bob Kerrey, an opponent of the Pro-CODE crypto liberalizationbill now pending in the Senate, has announced his intention tointroduce his own legislation in the next few days. The Kerreybill is expected to closely track draft legislation floated by theClinton administration earlier this year.

The text of the Internet Privacy Coalition letter is available at:


[2] EPIC Testifies on SSA Privacy

The House Subcommittee on Social Security held a hearing on May 6to discuss public concerns about the availability of earningsstatements at the web site of the Social Security Administration.
The service was suspended on April 9 following a front-page storyin USA Today.

The SSA continues to make the Personal Earnings and BenefitsEstimate Statements (PEBES) available by mail, by phone, and inresponse to requests over the Internet though statements are thensent by U.S. mail.

Witnesses before the Social Security Subcommittee included theActing Commissioner of the SSA, the SSA Inspector General, anofficial from the General Accounting Office, Privacy Timespublisher Evan Hendricks, representatives of the Junior Chamber ofCommerce, and EPIC Director Marc Rotenberg.

A series of Public Forums are scheduled over the next two monthsto solicit public comment and to provide opportunities fortechnical experts, computer experts, and others to give guidanceto the SSA. The Washington, DC field hearing, which is beingsponsored by the Electronic Privacy Information Center, will beheld on June 16 at Georgetown University Law Center.

EPIC's testimony on SSA and privacy is available at:

More information about the SSA Public Forums and opportunities forpublic comment may be found at:


[3] White House Task Force Issues Privacy Paper

An interagency task force has released "Options for PromotingPrivacy in the National Information Infrastructure." The policypaper considers a range of privacy options for the federalgovernment and the private sector, including the creation of afederal privacy agency. Notably, the paper looks beyond thepopular "notice and consent" mantra and examines the strengths andweaknesses of privacy safeguards in the United States.

The report was prepared by the Information Policy Committee of theNational Information Infrastructure Task Force and released by theOffice of Management and Budget. It explores the growing publicconcern about personal information privacy and describes the lackof protection for electronic data transactions and the absence offair information practices in the United States today. The paperlooks in more detail at the laws and policies affectinginformation privacy in four specific areas: government records;
communications; medical records; and the consumer market.

The Options Paper is the most comprehensive review of privacy lawsand shortcomings in U.S. privacy safeguards produced so far by theAdministration, though certain key issues were avoided and othersnot well described. For example, the OMB paper purposefullyducked discussion of the encryption issue, even as it set out todescribe options for promoting privacy on the Internet.

The OMB paper also touched only briefly and mistakenly on theissue of anonymity, raising concerns about Internet security. Infact, anonymity is one of the popular solutions to on-line privacyconcerns and will also play an important role in the emergence ofelectronic payment systems.

In both areas, the reluctance of the White House to come to termswith the important role of encryption in protecting online privacyhas once again created a flawed policy analysis. But the authorsof the report are to be commended for their efforts, given thepolitical constraints that continue to hobble national policy-
making in the privacy arena.

Comments can be sent to: BERNSTEIN__MA1.EOP.GOV before June 25.

The paper is available at:


[4] Global Coalition Protests German CompuServe Prosecution

Members of the Global Internet Liberty Campaign (GILC) havewritten to German Chancellor Helmut Kohl protesting theprosecution of the managing director of CompuServe's Germanyoffice for allowing members to access pornography over theInternet. The letter states the prosecution of the online servicemanager is "ill-advised for both technical and regulatory reasons"
and will "have a harmful impact on Internet users around theworld." The groups said that "the charges against CompuServe willestablish a harmful precedent, and may encourage other governmentsto censor speech, limit political debate, control artisticexpression, and otherwise deny the opportunity for individuals tobe fully informed."

The coalition letter also expressed support for efforts nowunderway in the German parliament to liberalize the use of theInternet. "We believe that the measure now under consideration toreduce liability for Internet services will do much to ensure theprotection of personal freedoms in the future," said theorganizations.

The organizations signing the letter included EPIC, the AmericanCivil Liberties Union, Arge Daten, Association des Utilisateursd'Internet, Derechos Human Rights, the Electronic FrontierFoundation, Human Rights Watch, the Internet Society, and PrivacyInternational.

Additional information is available at the EPIC InternationalCensorship Page:

and at the Global Internet Liberty Campaign website:


[5] Digital Wiretapping Update

The FBI filed a notice in the Federal Register on May 6 requestingcomments on implementation of the Communications Assistance forLaw Enforcement Act (CALEA). The notice responds to earliercomments submitted by telephone carriers relating to the scope ofthe FBI's demand for increased wiretapping capacity.

In the last Congress, after several years of refusing to fundCALEA, Congress appropriated $60 million for implementation. Italso authorized the creation of a "Telecommunications CarrierCompliance Fund" that could receive money from law enforcement andintelligence agencies. However, Congress required that the FBIprovide an implementation plan before the funds could be spent. InMarch, the Bureau issued the required plan. The telephonecompanies have objected to the FBI's proposal, citing issues suchas the requirement that cellular phones be able to track locationinformation for individuals, and the amount of funding required tomake the required changes to the telecommunications network.

More information on the Digital Telephony issue is available at:

The ACLU has set up a free Internet-based fax service forindividuals who wish to contact their member of Congress toexpress opposition to funding the Digital Telephony program. TheURL is:


[6] Become a Statistic -- WWW Survey Now Underway

The Graphics, Visualization & Usability Center's Seventh WWW UserSurvey is now underway. Express your views on Web usage, consumerpreferences, politics, privacy, and more. The survey runs throughMay 10, so act now!

The GVU Survey is the oldest and largest Web-based survey, and isadministered as a public service to the Web community by the GVUCenter -- an academic research center affiliated with GeorgiaTech's College of Computing. The collected results have beenwidely cited in all forms of the popular media as well as academicand government circles. Previous surveys have shown that strongmajorities of Internet users support online privacy and the rightto communicate anonymously.

The GVU Survey is located at:


Also, visit the EPIC Public Opinion page for information onprevious GVU polls and other privacy surveys:

[7] New Compilation of Privacy Laws

The Privacy Journal has published the 1997 edition of its"Compilation of State and Federal Privacy Laws." First publishedin 1975, this compilation is the most comprehensive source ofinformation on privacy legislation in the United States andCanada. The compilation includes sections on bank records,
medical records, polygraph tests, Social Security numbers andcredit reports.

Copies of the compilation are available from the Privacy Journal,
P.O. Box 28577, Providence, RI 02908, for $31 and a $4 handlingfee. Information is available via e-mail at
or by telephone at +1 401 274 7861.

[8] Upcoming Conferences and Events

Culture and Democracy revisited in the Global Information Society.
May 8 - 10, 1997. Corfu, Greece. Sponsored by IFIP-WG9.2/9.5.
Scrambling for Safety: Privacy, security and commercialimplications of the DTI's proposed encryption policy. May 19,
1997. London, UK. Sponsored by Privacy International, GlobalInternet Liberty Campaign and London School of Economics. Contact:

Guns, Ammunition and Cryptography: Is the Federal Government'sPolicy on Encryption Creating a Crisis? May 22, 1997. New York,
NY. Sponsored by the Association of the Bar of the City of NewYork. Contact:
Privacy and the Corporate World: Private Practices or Legislation?
June 2, 1997, Metro Toronto Convention Services, Riley InformationServices Inc. and other sponsors. Contact:

CYBER://CON.97: Rules for Cyberspace?: Governance, Standards andControl. June 4 - 7, 1997. Chicago, Illinois. Sponsored by theJohn Marshall Law School. Contact:

Ethics in the Computer Society: The Second Annual Ethics andTechnology Conference. June 6-7, 1997. Chicago, Ill. Sponsored byLoyola University Chicago.
Public Workshop on Consumer Privacy. June 10-13, 1997. Washington,
DC. Sponsored by the Federal Trade Commission. Contact:
Cyberpayments 97. June 19-20, 1997. Washington, DC. Sponsored byNACHA. Contact:
INET 97 -- The Internet: The Global Frontiers. June 24-27, 1997.
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Sponsored by the Internet Society.
Contact: or
Privacy Laws & Business 10th Anniversary Conference. July 1-3,
1997. St. John's College, Cambridge, England. Contact:

4th Annual Privacy Issues Forum., July 10-11, 1997. Auckland, NewZealand. Sponsored by NZ Privacy Commissioner. Contact: TerryDebenham, Fax +649-302 2305 or email

Communities, Culture, Communication, and Computers (C**5): On theRole of Professionals in the Information Age. August 20-22, 1997.
Paderborn, Germany. Sponsored by FIFF. Contact:
AST3: Cryptography and Internet Privacy. Sept. 15, 1997. Brussels,
Belgium. Sponsored by Privacy International. Contact:

19th Annual International Privacy and Data Protection Conference.
Sept. 17-18, 1997. Brussels, Belgium. Sponsored by Belgium DataProtection and Privacy Commission.

International Conference on Privacy. September 23-26, 1997.
Montreal, Canada. Sponsored by the Commission d'Acces al'information du Quebec.

Managing the Privacy Revolution '97. October 21-23, 1997.
Washington, DC. Sponsored by Privacy and American Business.
(Send calendar submissions to

The EPIC Alert is a free biweekly publication of the ElectronicPrivacy Information Center. To subscribe, send email with the subject: "subscribe" (no quotes) oruse the subscription form at:

Back issues are available at:

The Electronic Privacy Information Center is a public interestresearch center in Washington, DC. It was established in 1994 tofocus public attention on emerging privacy issues such as theClipper Chip, the Digital Telephony proposal, national ID cards,
medical record privacy, and the collection and sale of personalinformation. EPIC is sponsored by the Fund for ConstitutionalGovernment, a non-profit organization established in 1974 toprotect civil liberties and constitutional rights. EPIC publishesthe EPIC Alert, pursues Freedom of Information Act litigation, andconducts policy research. For more information,, HTTP:// or write EPIC, 666 PennsylvaniaAve., SE, Suite 301, Washington, DC 20003. +1 202 544 9240 (tel),
+1 202 547 5482 (fax).

If you'd like to support the work of the Electronic PrivacyInformation Center, contributions are welcome and fullytax-deductible. Checks should be made out to "The Fund forConstitutional Government" and sent to EPIC, 666 PennsylvaniaAve., SE, Suite 301, Washington DC 20003. Individuals with FirstVirtual accounts can donate at

Your contributions will help support Freedom of Information Actand First Amendment litigation, strong and effective advocacy forthe right of privacy and efforts to oppose government regulationof encryption and funding of the National Wiretap Plan.

Thank you for your support.

END EPIC Alert 4.07

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