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FBI Documents on Encryption

Using the Freedom of Information Act, the Electronic Privacy Information Center obtained several hundred pages of FBI documents concerning the Clipper Chip and encryption. Many documents were withheld by the Bureau, and those released are heavily sanitized. Nonetheless, the released material demonstrates the FBI's belief that federal legislation is required to prohibit the use of encryption products that do not provide law enforcement agencies real-time access to encrypted communications. In other words, the FBI (with the concurrence of the National Security Agency) has strongly advocated that non-Clipper encryption techniques must be outlawed.

The documents described below are among those that address the issue of a ban on non-escrowed encryption. Contained in the descriptions are links to scanned images of these documents.

Selected FBI Documents on Encryption

EPIC press release announcing disclosure of FBI encryption files (8/16/95).

Full text of key policy documents on encryption obtained by EPIC under the Freedom of Information Act.

Scanned image of the table of contents for briefing document prepared by FBI, NSA and DOJ and titled "Encryption: The Threat, Applications, and Potential Solutions," and an excerpt recommending a legislative prohibition on non-Clipper encryption. Full text of the document.

Transmittal letter from FBI Director William S. Sessions to National Security Council official George J. Tenet, forwarding the FBI/NSA/DOJ briefing document.

Cover page of FBI report titled "Impact of Emerging Telecommunications Technologies on Law Enforcement." The report is undated and classified "Secret." An excerpt calls for a national policy prohibiting cryptography that does not ensure real-time access to law enforcement.

Title page for FBI presentation on encryption policy, which includes a page discussing the need for domestic regulation and prohibition of cryptography that "cannot meet [law enforcement's] standard."

Cover page of FBI report titled "Law Enforcement's Diminished Capability to Conduct Electronic Surveillance." The report is undated and classified "Confidential."

Now Available ...

The 1996 edition of EPIC's highly regarded Cryptography and Privacy Sourcebook is now available. A must for the serious student of crypto policy, this collection includes complete versions of the documents referenced above.

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