Encryption and Wiretapping
• lift all technical review requirements for encryption software and hardware; • reject attempts to foist key escrow, or key recovery, on the market; • reject a strong federal role in standardizing digital signatures; • repeal the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act, which treats every U.S. citizen like a suspect and phones as tracking devices; and • prohibit the FBI from deploying Carnivore-type systems.
New communications technologies, from secure encrypted e-mail to digital and mobile phones, will be the engines of the 21st-century economy, changing every aspect of human life just as the printing press did. Also, the new technologies make wiretaps less useful to law enforcement authorities. Congress should not shackle new technology to preserve a few speculative gains for law enforcement. The costs far outweigh the benefits. Law enforcement can and will adapt to the new world.
Encryption software enciphers data sent over computer networks, so that only people with special information such as a secret key can read the plaintext of the message. The key is a string of numbers. The longer the string, the harder it is to break. Encryption technology is essential for citizens to preserve their privacy and security when using computer networks. Otherwise, medical records, credit card numbers, trade secrets, and personal communications relayed over computer networks are not safe from prying eyes.