August 9, 1995 The Honorable Al Gore Vice President of the United States The White House Washington, D.C. 20500 Dear Mr. Vice President: Approximately a year ago, you informed Representative Maria Cantwell and the information industry that the Administration was interested in commercial alternatives to the government-sponsored key escrow proposal. You indicated the Administration wanted an exportable commercial key escrow system that would "provide strong encryption, be acceptable to computer users worldwide, and address our national security needs as well." Over the last year it has become apparent that: * U.S. industry must have exportable strong encryption or foreign competition will take away the information markets that U.S. industry has dominated for fifty years. * The U.S. government will not have any access to encrypted information if foreign companies design the encryption systems and dominate a majority of the world market share. * The government's key escrow proposal is not gaining acceptance for global electronic commerce because of secret algorithms, government-held key escrow, and lack of access for commercial users. * The U.S. government must permit the export of strong encryption systems with commercial key escrow back-up access within the next few months in order to maintain America's leadership position in a global information infrastructure. Pursuant to your request, industry has developed a number of commercial key escrow proposals including both hardware- and software-based systems. A number of industry people have met with several Federal government agencies over the past year. In these meetings, a number of issues dealing with critical law enforcement and national security needs were raised. We believe we have dealt with these concerns and have now defined effective technology solutions. We recommend that the Administration adopt a strong encryption export policy supporting commercial key escrow systems that incorporate the following standards: * Immediate and unencumbered back-up access to encrypted information by owners of the information, and conditional access by lawful procedures for law enforcement or national security interests. * User choice of encryption algorithms, data recovery/escrow centers, and encryption strengths. * System deployment by private-sector organizations using commercial norms for system design and management, with appropriate government access for law enforcement and national security needs. * Global export capability that does not disadvantage legitimate foreign corporations, governments, or private users willing to adhere to reasonable standards, and that permits reciprocal access between nations for law enforcement and national security purposes. * Strong cryptographic protection that prevents access to encrypted information by any unauthorized individuals, corporations, or government entities. * Sufficient security to prevent modification or elimination of escrowing mechanisms, while maintaining commercial viability and efficiency. It is our sincere belief that U.S. government and industry can agree on a mutually beneficial export strategy for an escrowed strong-encryption capability that satisfies both industry and government. Technology has now been proposed that will resolve the conflict of governments chartered to protect their people and those same people trying to protect themselves while traveling on global electronic highways. We request that the Administration immediately adopt a policy that allows the export of strong cryptography with a commercial key escrow system that provides appropriate back-up access for individuals, corporations, and governments. This capability should be tied to data recovery or escrow centers managed by commercial organizations, with access by government agencies supported through existing search warrant mechanisms. We appreciate your consideration of this request and look forward to a policy decision from the Administration regarding exportable strong encryption as soon as possible. Sincerely, (IMG)