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Clipper Chip

Working Groups
Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility

Clipper Chip

October 1994

The Clipper Chip is a cryptographic device being promoted by the U.S. government. Its purported advantage is that it provides a standard for securing private voice communication. With Clipper, however, the government has the opportunity to obtain decryption keys that are held in escrow by two government agencies. Although the Clipper proposal requires legal authorization to obtain these keys, the history of illegal domestic surveillance by Federal agencies makes the existence of this "back-door" decryption channel a cause for concern.

CPSR has been a leader in the opposition to the Clipper Chip. In early 1994, CPSR launched an electronic petition drive to oppose Clipper, which eventually attracted over 50,000 signatures.

For more information on the Clipper Chip and related proposals, please see the following:


Outside Links

  • EPIC
    The Electronic Privacy Information Center.

    The Fund for Constitutional Government is a publicly supported, charitable, nonprofit corporation established in 1974 to expose and correct corruption in the federal government and other major national institutions through research and public education.

  • The Computers, Freedom and Privacy Video Library
    Educational videos and resources about human liberties and freedoms in the information age.

  • The Loka Institute
    A public affairs research and advocacy organization concerned with the social, political, and environmental repercussions of science and technology.

  • Privacy International
    Privacy International was formed in 1990 as a watchdog on surveillance by governments and corporations.

  • PRIVACY Forum
    The Internet PRIVACY Forum is a moderated digest for the discussion and analysis of issues relating to the general topic of privacy (both personal and collective) in the "information age" of the 1990's and beyond.

  • Dataveillance - Roger Clarke
    A page dedicated to data or information privacy-- the interest an individual has in controlling, or at least significantly influencing, the handling of data concerning him or herself.

  • ACM Report on U.S. Crypto Policy
    The ACM, founded in 1947, is a 85,000 member non-profit educational and scientific society dedicated to the development and use of information technology, and to addressing the impact of that technology on the world's major social challenges.

  • The Center for Democracy and Technology
    The Center For Democracy and Technology is a non-profit public interest organization based in Washington DC. The Center's mission is to develop and advocate public policies that advance constitutional civil liberties and democratic values in new computer and communications technologies.

  • Office of Technology Assessment
    The Office of Technology Assessment (OTA) was established by Congress in 1972 to provide congressional committees with analyses of emerging, difficult, and often highly technical issues.

  • White House Office of Science and Technology Policy
    The Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) provides expert advise to the President in all areas of science and technology.

  • The FCC
    The home page of the Federal Communications Commission

  • National Science and Technology Council Planning Document
    The Committee on Information and Communications of President Clinton's National Science and Technology Council recently published their strategic implementation plan entitled "America in the Age of Information". In it, six strategic areas are listed to focus interagency information and communications R&D efforts to make them "maximally responsive to national and mission agency goals".
Is there an alternative to Clipper?

Updated on Oct. 14, 1998

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Created before October 2004

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