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CALIFORNIA | TECHNOLOGY | THE STATE

Lawmakers Urge Encryption Controls

September 04, 1997|Reuters

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and several other lawmakers, supported by FBI chief Louis Freeh, said they would favor imposing domestic limits on computer encoding technology, shocking opponents of current limits on its export. Encryption programs, which scramble information and render it unreadable without a password or software "key," have become an increasingly important means of securing electronic commerce and communications. But the scrambling capability can also be used by criminals to hide their dealings from law enforcement agencies. Feinstein said during a hearing of the Senate judiciary subcommittee that she would favor requiring manufacturers of encryption products to include features allowing the government to decode any message by recovering the software keys. Freeh told the subcommittee he would also favor mandatory key recovery, but added that such a policy was probably unattainable, given the strong opposition from other lawmakers and interest groups.

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