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Computer Crime and
Intellectual Property Section (CCIPS) 

 

Encryption and Computer Crime

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  1. Department of Justice Frequently Asked Questions (“FAQ”) on Encryption Policy
  2. Attorney General Janet Reno Addresses the High Technology Crime Investigation Association 1999 International Training Conference
  3. Letter from Attorney General Janet Reno and others to Members of Congress regarding law enforcement's concerns related to encryption
  4. Senate Hearings on "Privacy in a Digital Age: Encryption and Mandatory Access"
  5. Testimony of Deputy Assistant Attorney General Robert S. Litt, Before the Subcommittee on Telecommunications, Trade and Consumer Protection, of the House Commerce Committee on September 4, 1997
  6. Testimony of Ronald D. Lee, Associate Deputy Attorney General, addressing encryption before the Subcommittee on Courts and Intellectual Property, of the House Committee on the Judiciary (March 4, 1999)
     

The nation's policy on encryption must carefully balance important competing interests. The Department of Justice has a vital stake in the country's encryption policy because encryption may be used not only to protect lawful data against unauthorized intruders, it may also be used to conceal illegitimate materials from law enforcement. While we support the spread of strong encryption, we believe that the widespread dissemination of unbreakable encryption without any accommodation for law enforcement access is a serious threat to public safety and to the integrity of America's commercial infrastructure. Our goal is to encourage the use of strong encryption to protect privacy and commerce, but in a way that preserves (without extending) law enforcement's ability to protect public safety and national security. Accordingly, the Administration has promoted the manufacture and use of key recovery products, aided the development of a global key management infrastructure ("KMI"), and liberalized United States restrictions on the export of robust cryptographic products. We anticipate that market forces will make key recovery products a de facto industry standard and thus preserve the balance of privacy and public safety that our Constitution embodies.

A. Department of Justice Frequently Asked Questions ("FAQ") on Encryption Policy

The Department of Justice is often asked for its concerns about encryption, or for the Administration viewpoint on encryption policy. The Department appreciates the opportunity to respond to such questions on this complex subject. A set of frequently asked questions (and answers) may be accesessed via the link below:
  • DOJ FAQ on Encryption Policy

B.  Attorney General Janet Reno Addresses the High Technology Crime Investigation Association 1999 International Training Conference
On Monday, September 20, 1999, Attorney General Janet Reno addressed the High Technology Crime Investigation Association 1999 International Training Conference in San Diego, California.  Her speech focused on the importance of interagency and state and federal law enforcement cooperation, as well as on the Department of Justice’s policy position on encryption regulation.
  • Speech by Attorney General Janet Reno before the High Technology Crime Investigation Association 1999 International Training Conference (September 20, 1999)
 
C. Letter from Attorney General Janet Reno and others to Members of Congress regarding law enforcement's concerns related to encryption
 
On July 18, 1997, Attorney General Janet Reno and others sent a letter to Members of Congress outlining law enforcement's concerns about the public safety and national security threats posed by unbridled availability of strong encryption. It urged legislators to support a balanced approach that supports commercial and privacy interest while maintaining law enforcement's ability to investigate and prosecute serious crime. This letter was co-signed by:
  • Louis Freeh, Director, Federal Bureau of Investigation
  • Barry McCaffrey, Director, Office of National Drug Control Policy
  • Thomas A. Constantine, Director, Drug Enforcement Administration,
  • Lewis C. Merletti, Director, United States Secret Service
  • Raymond W. Kelly, Undersecretary for Enforcement, U.S. Department of Treasury
  • George J. Weise, Commissioner, United States Customs Service
  • John W. Magaw, Director, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms
An image of the letter, as signed, as well as the text of the letter is available via the links below:
  • Image of letter to Congress regarding encryption as signed
  • Text of letter to Congress regarding encryption as signed.

D. Senate Hearings on "Privacy in a Digital Age: Encryption and Mandatory Access"

Robert S. Litt, Principal Associate Deputy Attorney General, Department of Justice, testified before the Subcommittee on the Constitution, Federalism, and Property Rights, of the Committee on the Judiciary of the United States Senate on March 17, 1998. His testimony addressed legal issues, constitutional issues, and law enforcement issues related to encryption. His testimony is available via the link below:

Testimony of Robert S. Litt, Principal Associate Deputy Attorney General, Department of Justice, before the Subcommittee on the Constitution, Federalism, and Property Rights, of the Committee on the Judiciary of the United States Senate on March 17, 1998.

E. Testimony of Robert S. Litt, Deputy Assistant Attorney General, before the Subcommittee on Telecommunications, Trade and Consumer Protection, of the House Commerce Committee, on September 4, 1997

Robert S. Litt, Deputy Assistant Attorney General, Criminal Division, Department of Justice, testified before the Subcommittee on Telecommunications, Trade and Consumer Protection, of the House Commerce Committee, on September 4, 1997. His testimony addressed encryption and one of the bills proposing to modify the United States' regulation of cryptography, H.R. 695. His tesimony, and a summary of his testimony, is available via the link below.
  • Summary of Robert Litt's testimony before the Subcommittee on Telecommunications, Trade and Consumer Protection, of the House Commerce Committee, on September 4, 1997
  • Robert Litt's testimony before the Subcommittee on Telecommunications, Trade and Consumer Protection, of the House Commerce Committee, on September 4, 1997

F.  Ronald D. Lee, Associate Deputy Attorney General, testifies regarding encryption before the Subcommittee on Courts and Intellectual Property, of the House Committee on the Judiciary (March 4, 1999)
Ronald D. Lee, Associate Deputy Attorney General, Department of Justice, testified before the Subcommittee on Courts and Intellectual Property, of the House Committee on the Judiciary, on March 4, 1999. His testimony addressed law enforcement policy regarding encryption, and, more particularly, H.R. 850, the proposed Security and Freedom through Encryption Act. His testimony is available via the link below:
  • Testimony of Ronald D. Lee, Associate Deputy Attorney General, addressing encryption before the Subcommittee on Courts and Intellectual Property, of the House Committee on the Judiciary (March 4, 1999)
 

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Updated page February 8, 2000
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