The White House Briefing Room

September 16, 1999


                              THE WHITE HOUSE

                       Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release                                        September 16,


     I am pleased to transmit for your early consideration and speedy
enactment a legislative proposal entitled the "Cyberspace Electronic
Security Act of 1999" (CESA).  Also transmitted herewith is a
section-by-section analysis.

     There is little question that continuing advances in technology are
changing forever the way in which people live, the way they communicate
with each other, and the manner in which they work and conduct commerce.
In just a few years, the Internet has shown the world a glimpse of what is
attainable in the information age.  As a result, the demand for more and
better access to information and electronic commerce continues to grow --
among not just individuals and consumers, but also among financial,
medical, and educational institutions, manufacturers and merchants, and
State and local governments.  This increased reliance on information and
communications raises important privacy issues because Americans want
assurance that their sensitive personal and business information is
protected from unauthorized access as it resides on and traverses national
and international communications networks.  For Americans to trust this new
electronic environment, and for the promise of electronic commerce and the
global information infrastructure to be fully realized, information systems
must provide methods to protect the data and communications of legitimate
users.  Encryption can address this need because encryption can be used to
protect the confidentiality of both stored data and communications.
Therefore, my Administration continues to support the development,
adoption, and use of robust encryption by legitimate users.

     At the same time, however, the same encryption products that help
facilitate confidential communications between law-abiding citizens also
pose a significant and undeniable public safety risk when used to
facilitate and mask illegal and criminal activity.  Although cryptography
has many legitimate and important uses, it is also increasingly used as a
means to promote criminal activity, such as drug trafficking, terrorism,
white collar crime, and the distribution of child pornography.



     The advent and eventual widespread use of encryption poses significant
and heretofore unseen challenges to law enforcement and public safety.
Under existing statutory and constitutional law, law enforcement is
provided with different means to collect evidence of illegal activity in
such forms as communications or stored data on computers.  These means are
rendered wholly insufficient when encryption is utilized to scramble the
information in such a manner that law enforcement, acting pursuant to
lawful authority, cannot decipher the evidence in a timely manner, if at
all.  In the context of law enforcement operations, time is of the essence
and may mean the difference between success and catastrophic failure.

     A sound and effective public policy must support the development and
use of encryption for legitimate purposes but allow access to plaintext by
law enforcement when encryption is utilized by criminals.  This requires an
approach that properly balances critical privacy interests with the need to
preserve public safety.  As is explained more fully in the sectional
analysis that accompanies this proposed legislation, the CESA provides such
a balance by simultaneously creating significant new privacy protections
for lawful users of encryption, while assisting law enforcement's efforts
to preserve existing and constitutionally supported means of responding to
criminal activity.

     The CESA establishes limitations on government use and disclosure of
decryption keys obtained by court process and provides special protections
for decryption keys stored with third party "recovery agents."  CESA
authorizes a recovery agent to disclose stored recovery information to the
government, or to use stored recovery information on behalf of the
government, in a narrow range of circumstances (e.g., pursuant to a search
warrant or in accordance with a court order under the Act).  In addition,
CESA would authorize appropriations for the Technical Support Center in the
Federal Bureau of Investigation, which will serve as a centralized
technical resource for Federal, State, and local law enforcement in
responding to the increasing use of encryption by criminals.

     I look forward to working with the Congress on this important national

                              WILLIAM J. CLINTON

    September 16, 1999.

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