Clipper: Should US govt read your mail?

S. A. Modena samodena at
Wed Mar 2 17:16:15 EST 1994

In article <2l07s2$sak at> cash at (Howard Cash) writes:
>Una, while I strongly agree that the clipper standard is an inappropriate
>and dangerous use of technology to diminish personal privacy, I think that
>your characterization is incorrect.  There is no proposal (not yet, at 
>least) to make clipper "the only legal form of encryption."  Rather the
>clipper chip may come "standard" with all computers, making it the 
>encryption method of choice for those who do not recognize the inherent
>danger of having data decrypted by a third party.  If the clipper chip
>turns up on every PC and Macintosh, it will not be very attractive for
>commercial software companies to create alternative encryption schemes,
>but that's a far cry from saying that alternate schemes will be illegal.

I guess I missed Una's posting...but as I understand the Clipper matter,
from readings in InfoWorld, Circuit Cellar INK, Dr. Dobb's Journal,
and PC Techniques...the purpose of the Clipper Standard will to
make it's encryption key system the *only* legal encryption system.


So that the National Security Agency will (continue to) be able to read
ALL electronic communications that impinge on the U.S.A. in any way.

Not everyone is necessarily agreeable.

In a similar vein, the Executive Branch has repeatedly petitioned
Congress to enact a law *mandating* that any telecommunication
switching equipment (especially telephone switches) have build in
facility for various Gov't agencies to install wiretap...because
today's technology has been a real hindrance to legal and illegal
Gov't surveillance of *you*.  :^)

Is it of importance to biologists: well, it's one sure way to
monitor what your research progress really is...and with whom
you are communicating, in detail. Are all areas of apparently
"open" biological research above interest to national security 
agencies?  Is it only math and physics that have strategic value?

Steve Modena    nmodena at

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