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<a href="http://www.eff.org/">Home</a> &raquo; <a href="/Privacy/">Privacy</a>
&raquo; <a href="/Privacy/Key_escrow/">Key Escrow</a><span
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<pre>
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: NIST 94-21
May 3, 1994

Contact: Anne Enright Shepherd VOLUNTARY NATURE OF


(301) 975-4858 TELECOMMUNICATIONS SECURITY
INITIATIVE STRESSED BY NIST
OFFICIAL IN TESTIMONY

A government-developed technology to protect the security of


telephone conversations and other information communicated over
telephone lines is meant to be used by both the government and
the private sector on a strictly voluntary, as-needed basis --
and is not intended to be mandated in the future, a National
Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) official said today
in congressional testimony.

In statements to both the Senate Committee on the Judiciary


and House Subcommittee on Technology, Environment and Aviation,
NIST Deputy Director Raymond Kammer stressed that the "voluntary
key escrow" coding system "first and foremost, was devised to
provide solid, first-rate cryptographic security for the
protection of information held by the government when government
agencies decide such protection is needed for unclassified
government communications." He cited as examples the protection
of tax records, Social Security records, census data and other
proprietary information when transmitted over telephone lines.

At the same time, Kammer pointed out the importance of


strong encryption protection for citizens and U.S. companies.
Encryption "protects the individual privacy of our citizens....
Private-sector organizations can also benefit from encryption by
securing their product development and marketing plans, for
example. It also can protect against industrial espionage,"
Kammer said.
But the increasing proliferation of encryption techniques
also is expected to make the law enforcement community's job more
difficult, he said, and the voluntary key escrow approach
provides a way for law enforcement authorities -- when legally
authorized -- to decode messages sent over telecommunications
systems using the key escrow technique. The initiative is
intended to strike a balance between the needs of law enforcement
and national security with the needs of businesses and
individuals for security and privacy.

In every instance, Kammer stressed, the system is being made


available on a strictly voluntary basis. Each federal agency can
use the key escrow technology to protect its information on an
as-needed basis. Companies can choose to use the system when
they need excellent security -- or they can use any other
encryption technologies available in the marketplace. "Let me be
clear," Kammer said. "This Administration does not seek
legislation to prohibit or in any way restrict the domestic use
of cryptography."

- 30 -

NOTE TO EDITORS: Copies of the NIST testimony are available to


reporters by calling (301) 975-2762.

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