Electronic Privacy -- A Call to Action

Larry Orr Orr at ASUCHM.LA.ASU.EDU
Wed Feb 23 15:23:47 EST 1994

I am posting this as a matter of concern primarily to US email users.

Larry Orr  (acting alone, not as a representative of any group)

>(Sorry for those of you who have seen this before.  For those that haven't,
>this is a one-time mailing - further mass mailings will only be done over the
>HotWired mailing list.  Thanks!)
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>To: WIRED Online Information Services <hotwired at wired.com>
>Subject: Electronic Privacy -- A Call to Action
>This is a pivotal moment in history. 
>The national security state, with the backing of the Clinton-Gore 
>administration, is attempting a stealth strike on our rights. If they 
>succeed, we could shortly find ourselves under a government with the 
>automated ability to log the time, origin, and recipient of every call and 
>e-mail message, to monitor our most private communications, to track our 
>physical whereabouts continuously, and to keep better account of our 
>financial transactions than we do -- all without a warrant.
>Fact: On Friday, February 4, 1994, the Clinton administration announced 
>support for the Clipper Chip and SKIPJACK encryption scheme as national 
>Fact: Federal security agencies have been meeting with telecommunications 
>companies to design back doors into the entire National Information 
>Infrastructure (NII), including every telephone and data network, even 
>including fax machines. In other words, any system connected to the NII 
>would be required to include a "back door" in order to facilitate 
>monitoring by government agencies.
>We at WIRED Online believe that the adoption of these administration 
>initiatives could result in a profound infringement of individual freedom 
>and privacy, ours as well as yours. We urge you to read the rest of this 
>letter, to examine the available materials, to consider these important 
>issues for yourself, and to act to preserve the Bill of Rights in 
>The proposed encryption scheme, which uses the SKIPJACK encryption 
>algorithm and the Clipper Chip, relies on a "key escrow" system with a 
>built-in "back door" so that security agents can decrypt and monitor even 
>supposedly "secure" communications. While the administration claims that 
>there will be "safeguards," the technology was developed by the virtually 
>insular National Security Agency, and its algorithms remain classified.
>The scope of Clipper is significantly broader than any previous 
>surveillance strategy. The Clipper Chip will be installed directly into 
>telecommunications devices such as telephones, computers, and digital set-
>top boxes for interactive TV. Since the system can be used to encrypt any 
>communications that pass across telecommunications lines (including text, 
>sound and images), ANY AND ALL communication that passes through your 
>system has the possibility of being intercepted. 
>In addition, the administration's Information Infrastructure Task Force 
>Working Group on Privacy is attempting to "front load" the NII with 
>trapdoor technologies that would allow security agencies easy access to 
>digitial conversations, including capturing electronic communications 
>midstream. No communication system would be exempt from this effort, from 
>the national telephone network to your local office computer network.
>Of course, the administration claims that these trapdoors will be used only 
>to catch criminals and that your privacy will be protected. But, as John 
>Perry Barlow has put it, "trusting the government with your privacy is like 
>trusting a Peeping Tom to install your window blinds." 
>These government inititatives, taken together, constitute one of the most 
>grievous threats to our constitutional liberties in modern times. The 
>security agencies and the administration are involved in a stealth strike 
>at our freedoms that could effectively abrogate the Bill of Rights in 
>cyberspace, where we and our descendants will be spending increasingly 
>larger parts of lives.
>The Clipper initiative and the plans to require "back doors" throughout the 
>NII demands immediate critical assessment. WIRED encourages you to 
>seriously consider how these proposals might affect you. To help inform 
>your decision, WIRED Online has set up a Clipper information archive 
>through our Infobot mail server, Internet Gopher, World Wide Web, and other 
>online sites.
>The WIRED Online Clipper Archive features crucial essays written for WIRED 
>by John Perry Barlow and Brock N. Meeks. If you do nothing else, read these 
>stories. You can have them sent to you immediately by electronic mail by 
>copying the following three lines into the body of an electronic mail 
>message addressed to infobot at wired.com:
>   send clipper/privacy.meeks
>   send clipper/privacy.barlow
>   end
>The WIRED Online Clipper Archive also includes re-posted comments from 
>Jerry Berman (of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF)) and Dorothy 
>Denning (encryption expert and Clipper proponent), a copy of the EFF's 
>_EFFector Online_ newsletter documenting the Clipper controversy, and an 
>electronic anti-Clipper petition circulated by the Computer Professionals 
>for Social Responsibility (CPSR). We have also set up links to other 
>valuable sources of information on Clipper, including those maintained by 
>the EFF and CPSR.
>You can access our archive via the following WIRED Online services:
>  o WIRED Infobot e-mail server     send e-mail to infobot at wired.com,
>                                    containing the words "send 
>                                    clipper/index" on a single
>                                    line inside the message body
>  o WIRED Gopher                    gopher to gopher.wired.com
>                                    select "Clipper Archive"
>  o WIRED on World Wide Web         http://www.wired.com
>                                    select "Clipper Archive"
>  o WIRED on America Online         keyword: WIRED
>  o WIRED on the WELL               type "go wired" from any "OK" prompt
>                                    type "clipper" to access the menu 
>WIRED Online encourages you to take the time to familiarize yourself with 
>these issues, beginning with the tools and access we've provided. Then take 
>the next step -- ACT!!!
>Support the Cantwell bill. Write cantwell at eff.org and put "I support HR 
>3627" in the Subject header. This bill is designed to give rise to a mass-
>market in cryptographic software, which is a necessary step to beating 
>Clipper. Feel free to include in your letter to Rep. Maria Cantwell your 
>reasons for supporting the growth of the encryption industry and reasons 
>for opposing Clipper.
>To call for Senate hearings on Clipper, write Sen. Patrick Leahy to 
>leahy at eff.org and express your concern that the Clipper process has been 
>closed to the public.
>Express your sentiments to Rep. Lee Hamilton, D-Indiana, the House
>Committee on Foreign Affairs chair, by e-mailing hamilton at eff.org.
>Sign the CPSR petition against Clipper. 
>Call or write your Congressional representatives and let them know how you 
>feel about the Clipper and NII "backdoor" initiatives, BEFORE a decision is 
>made for you that will have a profound effect on the future of your freedom 
>and privacy.
>Please do not reply to this message directly. To discuss these issues with 
>WIRED readers and staff members, please use discussion areas on the WELL, 
>America Online, and USENET (alt.wired). If you have questions or comments 
>about Clipper that are not answered in the online archives or these 
>discussion spaces, please address them to online at wired.com and be sure to 
>include the word "clipper" in the subject line. 
>If you would like to receive future WIRED-related bulletins, you can 
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>   subscribe hotwired
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>here at WIRED Online.
>Thanks for your attention.
>-- The staff of WIRED Online
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