Efforts to Ban Encryption in the 1990s

FBI Attempts to Outlaw Non-Escrowed Encryption

In the 1990s, the Federal Bureau of Investigation played a leading role in advocating the prohibition of encryption techniques that do not ensure law enforcement access to encrypted communications. A principal architect of both the Digital Telephony legislation and the Clipper Chip initiative, the Bureau worked closely with the National Security Agency to inhibit the development of truly secure and private communications systems. Documents obtained by EPIC under the Freedom of Information Act demonstrate conclusively that the Bureau believed that Clipper-type encryption must be mandated within the United States.

News and Documents

Other Documents

Legislation to Ban Encryption

  • The 1996 DOJ draft bill to Congress to create a key recovery infrastructure. The bill also allows access to keys in many circumstances without a warrant and criminalizes the use of crypto in a crime.
  • S. 974, the Anti-Electronic Racketeering Act of 1995.
  • Senator Grassley's Floor Statement on S. 974.
  • Brief EPIC overview of cryptography provisions of S. 974.

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Communications Law and Policy

Communications Law and Policy
Jerry Kang and Alan Butler