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EPIC Alert 5.06 [1998] EPICAlert 6


Volume 5.06 May 12, 1998

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

*** 1998 EPIC Cryptography and Privacy Conference ***
** Last week for Early Registration **

Table of Contents

[1] New Senate Crypto Bill: A Mixed Bag
[2] Senate May Soon Consider Internet Filtering Bill
[3] Wiretaps Increase in 1997; Only Two Computer Taps
[4] EPIC Testifies on International Privacy
[5] Industry, Public Interest Groups Ask FCC to Delay Wiretap Law
[6] Last Week for Early Registration for EPIC Crypto Conference
[7] New Congressional Bills and Upcoming Hearings
[8] Upcoming Conferences and Events

[1] New Senate Crypto Bill: A Mixed Bag

Senators John Ashcroft (R-MO) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT) todayintroduced the "Encryption Protects the Rights of Individuals fromViolation and Abuse in Cyberspace (E-PRIVACY) Act." The proposedlegislation is the latest in a series of congressional measuresdesigned to resolve the debate surrounding current U.S. encryptionpolicy. Like the SAFE Act (H.R. 695) now pending in the House, theE-PRIVACY Act seeks to relax existing controls on the export ofencryption products. Controls would be lifted for encryptionproducts that are deemed to be "generally available" within theinternational market. Exporters would be given new procedural rightsto obtain expedited determinations on the exportability of theirproducts.

The bill also contains several provisions that would preserve theright of Americans to use encryption techniques and that wouldenhance the privacy protections currently accorded to personalcommunications and stored data. Among its positive features, the billwould prohibit government-compelled key escrow and provide enhancedprivacy protections for stored electronic data held by third parties,
location information generated by wireless communications services,
and transactional information obtained from pen registers and trapand trace devices.

The bill contains two provisions that raise significant civilliberties and privacy concerns. One would make the use of encryptionto conceal "incriminating" communications or information during thecommission of a crime a new federal criminal offense. The otherwould create within the Department of Justice a National ElectronicTechnology Center (NET Center) to "serve as a center for . . . lawenforcement authorities for information and assistance regardingdecryption and other access requirements." The NET Center would havea broad mandate and could potentially spawn a new domesticsurveillance bureaucracy within the Department of Justice. The billauthorizes other federal agencies to provide "assistance" to the NETCenter, including the detailing of personnel to the new entity.
Given that existing federal expertise in the areas of electronicsurveillance and decryption resides at the National Security Agency(NSA), the bill in effect authorizes unprecedented NSA involvement indomestic law enforcement activities.

EPIC's analysis of the E-PRIVACY bill (including a link to the textof the legislation) is available at:

[2] Senate May Soon Consider Internet Filtering Bill

The Senate may soon vote on the "Internet School Filtering Act" (S.
1619). The bill would require schools and libraries receiving federalInternet subsidies to install filtering software designed to preventchildren from accessing "inappropriate" material. The SenateCommerce Committee approved the measure on March 12.

The filtering bill was initially scheduled for a vote during theSenate's "Tech Week" (which began on May 11), when "non-controversial"
technology legislation will be brought to the Senate floor. Growingcontroversy surrounding the bill apparently led to its removal from theagenda.

The bill raises serious constitutional questions. In a decision issuedon April 7, a federal judge in Virginia rejected an effort to dismiss achallenge to Internet filtering at a public library, finding that "theLibrary Board may not adopt and enforce content- based restrictions onaccess to protected Internet speech" unless it meets the highest levelof constitutional scrutiny. Many local communities have decided thatthe best approach to online content is one that emphasizes "acceptableuse policies" and Internet education programs. They have rejected theuse of filtering software as ineffective and contrary to educationalobjectives.

EPIC is joining with the ACLU and EFF in sponsoring an online campaignto raise Congressional awareness of the implications of Internetfiltering. Faxes can be sent -- free of charge -- to your Senators byvisiting the EPIC Free Speech Action page:

Additional information on Internet filtering is also available at theInternet Free Expression Alliance website:

[3] Wiretaps Increase in 1997; Only Two Computer Taps

State and Federal wiretapping increased by three percent in 1997according to the annual report of the Administrative Office of the U.S.
Courts, released last week. The total number of wiretaps approved bystate and federal judges in 1997 was 1186, up from 1149 in 1996. Therewas a slight decrease in federal orders and an eight percent increasein state requests, mainly from a special New York police anti-narcoticssquad. Once again, no request for a wiretap order was turned down by afederal or state judge.

Investigation of drug cases was again the major reason for wiretaps.
Seventy-three percent of all applications listed narcotics as theprimary reason, up from 71 percent the previous year. Gambling andracketeering each accounted for eight percent of the applications.
Only three cases involved "arson, explosives, and weapons" cases.

Wiretaps continued to be relatively inefficient as an investigativetool. In 1997, each tap intercepted an average of 2081 calls for atotal of nearly 2.5 million calls intercepted. Only 20 percent ofconversations intercepted were deemed "incriminating" by prosecutors.
Federal taps were even less efficient -- only 16 percent were deemed"incriminating."

An analysis by EPIC of the reports for 1995-1997 has found that whilethe FBI continues its push towards limiting cryptography used toprotect the privacy of electronic communications, federal and stateinvestigators only conducted five wiretaps that involved computercommunications in that period. In 1997, two such instances werereported. The two 1997 cases were a fraud case in Ohio and anextortion case in Illinois. The Illinois order was only in force forsix days and did not yield any "incriminating conversations."

More information on wiretapping, including the text of theAdministrative Office of the U.S. Court's 1997 Wiretap report (in PDFformat) is available at:

[4] EPIC Testifies on International Privacy

EPIC testified before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee onInternational Relations on May 7 on privacy in the United States andthe European Union's privacy directive. The hearing was held todiscuss the pending EU Directive, which will require that all Europeancountries establish a high level of privacy protection and prevent thesending of personal information to other countries which do not havethe same level of protection. It will go into effect this October.

Executive Director Marc Rotenberg's testimony focused on the inadequacyof U.S. privacy laws and the demand by U.S. citizens for privacyprotection: "It is not the privacy laws in Europe that raise concern;
it is the absence of privacy laws in the United States that created thedifficult situation we face today. "

Highlights from the testimony:

1. Privacy as a legal right is well established in the United States,
and the United States has passed many privacy laws in response to newtechnologies. But the Administration and some companies are nowactively opposing the adoption of real privacy safeguards. A countrysuch as ours that prides itself on human rights should not becampaigning against privacy -- which is one of the most importantrights in the information age.

2. The self-regulatory approach that has been offered as an alternativeto strong legal and technical protections is not doing very well.
Public support for privacy legislation has grown during the time thatself-regulatory policies have been pursued.

3. Other countries are following the European approach and adopting newlaws and new technical measures to protect privacy. The United Statesis becoming increasingly isolated in the global debate over privacyprotection.

4. Europe is committed to the enforcement of the Directive. Failure bythe United States to address this issue will have specific economicconsequences for U.S. firms and transborder data flows.

5. The U.S. policy on privacy is particularly ineffective because weare simultaneously urging surveillance standards in thetelecommunications field for European governments and businesses evenas we tell the Europeans not to apply their privacy guidelines toAmerican firms operating in Europe.

The full text of the testimony is available at:

[5] Industry, Public Interest Groups Ask FCC to Delay Wiretap Law

Public interest groups, telecommunications companies and tradeassociations filed comments with the Federal Communications Commissionon May 8 asking the FCC to delay the implementation of new technicalstandards required by the Communications Assistance for Law EnforcementAct (CALEA). Under the law, telecommunications companies and equipmentmanufacturers have until October 25, 1998, to implement new standardsfor digital wiretapping or face heavy fines. However, delays due tocontroversial FBI demands in the standard-setting process haveprevented them from being adopted.

Comments filed jointly by EPIC, the Electronic Frontier Foundation andthe American Civil Liberties Union asked the FCC to indefinitely staythe proceeding until the controversy over the standards are resolved.
The groups also urged the FCC to issue one order covering allcompanies, rather than process several thousand individual requests forrelief from the requirements.

More information on CALEA and wiretapping is available at:

[6] Last Week for Early Registration for EPIC Crypto Conference

May 15 is the deadline for early registration for the 1998 EPICCryptography and Privacy Conference.

Top government officials -- including Senator John Ashcroft (R-MO),
William Reinsch (Undersecretary of Commerce for Export Administration)
and Robert Litt (Principal Associate Attorney General) -- will discusscurrent U.S. encryption policy at the largest policy conference oncryptography ever held in Washington, DC. Other leading experts fromgovernment, industry, public interest community and academia will alsodebate important legal, political technical issues. If you areinterested in cryptography policy, this is the one meeting you mustattend!

The 1998 EPIC Cryptography and Privacy Conference is organized by theElectronic Privacy Information Center, in cooperation with the HarvardUniversity Information Infrastructure Project and the Technology PolicyResearch Group of the London School of Economics.

o $300.00 (before May 15) / $400.00 (after May 15)


o $150.00 (before May 15) / $200.00 (after May 15)


[7] New Congressional Bills and Upcoming Hearings


Scheduled for votes, week of 5/11/98
* S. 2037: An original bill to amend title 17, United States Code,
to implement the WIPO Copyright Treaty and the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty, to provide limitations on copyright liability relating to material online, and for other purposes.

* H. R. 2652: A bill to amend title 17, United States Code, to prevent the misappropriation of collections of information.
(Collections of Information Antipiracy Act)


May 19-20. Senate Governmental Affairs. To hold hearings to examineGovernment computer security. SD-342. 10:00 a.m.

May 21. Senate Labor and Human Resources. To hold hearings on geneticinformation issues. SD-430. 10:00 a.m.

May 21. Subcommittee on Telecommunications, Trade, and ConsumerProtection hearing on Electronic Commerce: Doing Business On-Line.
2123 RHOB. 10:00 a.m.

June 4. House Committee on Commerce. Subcommittee on Finance andHazardous Materials hearing on Electronic Commerce: New Methods forMaking Electronic Purchases. 2123 RHOB. 10:00 a.m.


H.R. 3752. Multipoint Wiretap Act of 1998. Allows for police toeasily conduct roving wiretaps. Introduced by McCullum (R-FL) on April29, 1998. Referred to the Committee on the Judiciary.

H.R. 3755. Prescription Privacy Protection Act of 1998. Restrictsdisclosure of pharmacy records. Introduced by Nadler (D-NY) on April29, 1998. Referred to the Committee on Commerce.

H.R. 3783. Child Online Protection Act. CDA 2 bill criminalizesmaterial sent that is "harmful to minors." Introduced by Oxley (R-OH)
on April 30, 1998. Referred to the Committee on Commerce
S. 1965. Internet Predator Prevention Act of 1998. To prohibit thepublication of identifying information relating to a minor for criminalsexual purposes. Introduced by Moseley-Braun (D-IL) on April 22, 1998.
Referred to the Committee on the Judiciary.

S. 1973. Telephone Privacy Act of 1998. Requires two-party consentbefore recording telephone calls. Introduced by Bumpers (D-AK) onApril 23, 1998. Referred to the Committee on the Judiciary.

An updated list of the over 100 bills pending in Congress that relateto privacy and free speech is available at:

[8] Upcoming Conferences and Events

The Threats to Democracy Conference. May 15-18. Washington D.C.
Sponsored by People For the American Way. Contact:
SCRAMBLING FOR SAFETY: Privacy, security and commercial implicationsof the UK and EU crypto policy announcements. 29th May 1998. London,
UK. Sponsored by Cambridge University. contact:
Ethics and Technology. June 5-6. San Jose, CA. Sponsored by Santa ClaraUniversity. Contact:

1998 EPIC Cryptography and Privacy Conference. June 8, 1998.
Washington, DC. Sponsored by EPIC, Harvard University and London Schoolof Economics. Contact:

Net Censorship In Europe. June 9, 1998. Washington, DC. Sponsored bythe Freedom Forum. Contact:
INET'98, July 21-24, 1998, Geneva, Switzerland. Sponsored by InternetSociety. Contact:

Advances in Social Informatics and Information Systems, Baltimore, MD,
Aug. 14-16, 1998. Sponsored by the Association for Information SystemsContact:
CPSR Annual Conference - Internet Governance. Boston, Mass, Oct.
10-11. Sponsored by CPSR. contact:
PDC 98 - the Participatory Design Conference, "BroadeningParticipation" November 12-14, 1998. Seattle, Washington. Sponsored byComputer Professionals for Social Responsibility in cooperation withACM and CSCW 98. Contact:
1999 RSA Data Security Conference. San Jose, California, January18-21, 1999. Sponsored by RSA. Contact:

(Send calendar submissions to

Subscription Information

The EPIC Alert is a free biweekly publication of the ElectronicPrivacy Information Center. To subscribe or unsubscribe, send emailto with the subject: "subscribe" (no quotes) or"unsubscribe". A Web-based form is available at:
Back issues are available at:

About EPIC

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 the ClipperChip, the Digital Telephony proposal, national ID cards, medicalrecord privacy, and the collection and sale of personal information.
EPIC is sponsored by the Fund for Constitutional Government, anon-profit organization established in 1974 to protect civil libertiesand constitutional rights. EPIC publishes the EPIC Alert, pursuesFreedom of Information Act litigation, and conducts policy research.
For more information, e-mail, orwrite EPIC, 666 Pennsylvania Ave., SE, Suite 301, Washington, DC20003. +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 Pennsylvania Ave.,
SE, Suite 301, Washington DC 20003. Individuals with First Virtualaccounts can donate at
Your contributions will help support Freedom of Information Act andFirst Amendment litigation, strong and effective advocacy for theright of privacy and efforts to oppose government regulation ofencryption and funding of the digital wiretap law.

Thank you for your support.

END EPIC Alert 5.06

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