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Date: 1998-10-02

Surprise: Canada gibt Crypto frei

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Fünf Tage vor der Konferenz der OECD in Ottawa zum Thema
e-commerce hat der kanadische Industrieminister John Manley
überraschend Gebrauch & Produktion von
Kryptographieprogrammen freigegeben. Dies steht in
diametralem Gegensatz zu den Wünschen der eigenen geheimen
Dienste, sowie der USA. Das Argument: Sicherung von
Arbeitsplätzen in Canadas Software Industrie.

Wohl ambedeutungsvollsten ist an diesem Schritt, dass mit
Canada einer der fünf Echelon/Betreiberstaaten die bisher
unerschütterliche Allianz der Lauschangreifer verlassen hat.

related info: c URLs below
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The federal government has given a green light for Canadians
to develop and use "the very strongest forms of encryption"
to protect the privacy of their personal communications and
records, and to protect the security of their online

"This is very good news", said David Jones, president of
Electronic Frontier Canada (EFC), a non-profit organization
working to protect free speech and the right to privacy in

In a speech delivered in Ottawa today, Industry Minister
John Manley announced Canada's new Cryptography Policy,
making it clear that that there will be no mandatory
requirements for government access to encryption keys, and
no licensing requirements, despite the wishes of law
enforcement agencies who sought the capability of a built-in
"backdoor" that would enable them to listen in on online

Encryption technology works by using sophisticated
mathematical techniques to "scramble" digital information so
snoops and eavesdroppers can't gain access to data and
communications intended to be private, including email,
computer files, and even conversations on digital

Manley's announcement today was made in anticipation of the
upcoming OECD Ministerial Conference on Electronic Commerce,
and the associated Conference on the Public Voice in the
Development of Internet Policy, both being held in Ottawa
starting October 7th.

This announcement follows roughly 18 months of deliberation
involving a dozen federal departments and considerable
public consultation. "We are very pleased that EFC was given
the opportunity to play a role in developing this policy",
says Jones, who is also a professor at McMaster University,
in the Theme School on Science, Technology, and Public
Policy. EFC participated in informal discussions with
Industry Canada more than a year ago and released a position
statement in August, 1997. Following Industry Canada's
release of its white paper, "A Cryptography Policy Framework
for Electronic Commerce", in February 1998, EFC participated
in formal discussions in Ottawa before making a written
submission to Industry Canada this April. In their recently
released "Analysis of Submissions", Industry Canada took
note of EFC's submission because of the inclusion of 14
letters from leading Canadian experts in cryptography who
opposed restrictive policy options, and the inclusion of a
letter signed by 23 international organizations from the
Global Internet Liberty Campaign who are all concerned with
defending civil liberties and human rights on the Internet.

"It's been a quite an open, transparent, and inclusive
process", says Jeffrey Shallit, co-founder of Electronic
Frontier, and a computer science professor at the University
of Waterloo's Centre for Applied Cryptography Research.
"Canada's approach has been more successful than the one
taken in the United States, which over the past several
years has seen a whole sequence of failed cryptography
policies announced by Washington and then rejected by the
Internet community."

Jim Carroll, author of the Canadian Internet Handbook and
well known Internet guru, had this to say about today's
announcement, "With John Manley, we've got the only guy in
the federal government who truly understands the technology
and 'gets the Net', and so he's got a lot of respect in the
Internet community." These remarks are in stark contrast to
the harsh criticism Carroll has expressed about the CRTC's
consideration of possible Internet regulation.


While today's announcement is seen as very positive, "The
real obstacle is continuing export restrictions", says
Jones. Under the Wassenaar Arrangement, an international
treaty signed by 33 nations, Canada restricts the flow of
cryptographic products to customers outside the country. For
Canada's high-tech firms that sell cryptographic hardware
and software, it is typical for more than 90% of their
revenues to come from outside Canada. Since there isn't a
strong business case for a Canada-only product, export
restrictions will continue to have an impact at home, by
limiting the diversity and strength of encryption tools
available to Canadians.

In his speech today, John Manley seemed to agree, "The
[Canadian] cryptography industry can only grow if it has the
freedom to export." Manley also highlighted the risks of
continuing with a restrictive export policy: Canadian
high-tech companies "need to tap as many of these overseas
markets as possible to keep their highly-paid,
highly-qualified jobs here in Canada".

Manley also promised, "We will streamline the export permit
process and make it more transparent". Jones is already
familiar with the sometimes slow and unpredictable export
process, "I'm still waiting to hear from the Department of
Foreign Affairs to learn whether I am permitted to export my
own public domain encryption software. And they haven't yet
informed me whether I can put the software on my university
web page, or whether I can teach fundamental encryption
algorithms in computer science courses if there happen to be
foreign students in the class."


Manley's policy announcement also included plans for several
amendments to the Criminal Code. "Some of these changes
would be welcome to help protect privacy", says Jones, "such
as the proposal to criminalize the wrongful disclosure of
encryption keys".

It's not clear, however, what is meant when the government
says it will change the law to 'deter' the use of encryption
to commit crimes or conceal evidence, or to compel
'assistance' when police seek to intercept or seize computer
data. "Without creating unreasonable obstacles for law
enforcement", says Jones, "we need laws that 'encourage' the
widespread use of strong encryption for legitimate

"We'll have to wait and see what the details of these
amendments look like", says Shallit, "We don't want the
government to be able force individuals to disclose their
own encryption keys."

relayed by
Steven Cooper <>

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edited by Harkank
published on: 1998-10-02
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