Clipper: Should US govt read your mail?

Una Smith una at
Sun Feb 27 21:24:34 EST 1994

The Clipper proposal is a scheme whereby the only legal form of
encryption for maintaining the privacy of data transmissions in 
the United States would include a special "key", held by the US
federal government, to be used by it to invade your privacy.  It
is a powerful and important proposal, and deserves the fullest
possible public consideration.  Below, I've included a mailing 
from the Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility, a well-
respected organization, inviting "signatories" to a petition 
against the Clipper proposal.  Please consider signing, and send
this on to others who may be concerned.

	Una Smith		smith-una at

Sender: Dave Banisar <banisar at>
Subject: Clipper Petition 

                Electronic Petition to Oppose Clipper  
                      Please Distribute Widely

On January 24, many of the nation's leading experts in cryptography
and computer security wrote President Clinton and asked him to
withdraw the Clipper proposal.
The public response to the letter has been extremely favorable,
including coverage in the New York Times and numerous computer and
security trade magazines.

Many people have expressed interest in adding their names to the
letter.  In  response to these requests, CPSR is organizing an
Internet petition drive to oppose the Clipper proposal.  We will
deliver the signed petition to the White House, complete with the
names of all the people who oppose Clipper.

To sign on to the letter, send a message to:

     Clipper.petition at

with the message "I oppose Clipper" (no quotes)

You will receive a return message confirming your vote.

Please distribute this announcement so that others may also express
their opposition to the Clipper proposal.

CPSR is a membership-based public interest organization.  For
membership information, please email cpsr at  For more
information about Clipper, please consult the CPSR Internet Library -
FTP/WAIS/Gopher CPSR.ORG /cpsr/privacy/crypto/clipper


The President 
The White House 
Washington, DC  20500

Dear Mr. President:

     We are writing to you regarding the "Clipper" escrowed encryption
proposal now under consideration by the White House.  We wish to
express our concern about this plan and similar technical standards
that may be proposed for the nation's communications infrastructure.

     The current proposal was developed in secret by federal agencies
primarily concerned about electronic surveillance, not privacy
protection.  Critical aspects of the plan remain classified and thus
beyond public review.

     The private sector and the public have expressed nearly unanimous
opposition to Clipper.  In the formal request for comments conducted
by the Department of Commerce last year, less than a handful of
respondents supported the plan.  Several hundred opposed it.

     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.  Citizens who anticipate that the progress of technology
will enhance personal privacy will find their expectations

     Some have proposed that Clipper be adopted on a voluntary basis
and suggest that other technical approaches will remain viable.  The
government, however, exerts enormous influence in the marketplace, and
the likelihood that competing standards would survive is small.  Few
in the user community believe that the proposal would be truly

     The Clipper proposal should not be adopted.  We believe that if
this proposal and the associated standards go forward, even on a
voluntary basis, privacy protection will be diminished, innovation
will be slowed, government accountability will be lessened, and the
openness necessary to ensure the successful development of the
nation's communications infrastructure will be threatened.

     We respectfully ask the White House to withdraw the Clipper

--------------- end of CPSR letter to the White House --------------

	Una Smith			smith-una at

Department of Biology, Yale University, New Haven, CT  06520-8104  USA

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