Crypto regs still tricky
By: Kevin Poulsen
Posted: 01/02/2001 at 03:23 GMT

Over a year after the US government first announced the liberalization of
encryption export rules, a tangle of vestigial regulations might still trip
up unwary developers, experts say.

"Never work under the belief that encryption is not controlled," said Susan
Kotila, project manager with Apple's export license department. "I've run
into a lot of developers where I've had to tell them, I've got the name of
a good lawyer, but you're in violation right now."

The last eighteen months of the Clinton administration heralded a series of
significant reforms in the export restrictions that had kept strong
security and privacy technology out of commercial products for years. But
some regulation remains, and developers who include unbreakable encryption
in a product that's sold overseas or online still need to jump through
bureaucratic hoops to avoid running afoul of the law, said Kotila.

"Developers, be aware that you do need to go through one-time government
review on your crypto before you export it," said Kotila, who delivered an
impromptu lecture on the topic Tuesday at the 2001 Mac Crypto Conference
held at Apple's Cupertino, California campus.

Apple's John Hurley blamed the regulations for keeping support for plug-in
Cryptographic Service Providers (CSPs) out of Mac OSX, a feature that would
have permitted independent developers to create their own replacements for
the operating system's built-in encryption. "We do want people to be able
to write CSPs," said Hurley. "But we're stuck by export laws."

Strong crypto is generally exportable, but in many cases companies are
still required to submit a copy of new software to the US government for a
thirty day review. Open source code has fewer restrictions, except when
part of a commercial product.

Cindy Cohn, legal direct of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF),
agrees that reports of the death of crypto regulations are greatly

"The government came out and said they were giving up, but when you read
the fine print, they didn't give up entirely," says Cohn, who represented
mathematician Daniel Bernstein in his successful First Amendment challenge
to the old crypto regulations. "They took something complex and made it
even more complex. They've got caveats for every little thing."

Details on the rules and various exemptions may be found on the US Commerce
Department's Bureau of Export Administration Web site.

© 2001 All rights reserved.
R. A. Hettinga <mailto: [EMAIL PROTECTED]>
The Internet Bearer Underwriting Corporation <>
44 Farquhar Street, Boston, MA 02131 USA
"... however it may deserve respect for its usefulness and antiquity,
[predicting the end of the world] has not been found agreeable to
experience." -- Edward Gibbon, 'Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire'

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