Personal tools


Clipper Letter

CPSR Clipper Letter

January 24, 1994

The President
The White House
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President,

We are writing to you regarding the "Clipper" escrowed encryption proposal now under consideration by the White House. We wish to express our concern about this plan and similar technical standards that may be proposed for the nation's communications infrastructure.

The current proposal was developed in secret by federal agencies primarily concerned about electronic surveillance, not privacy protection. Critical aspects of the plan remain classified and thus beyond public review.

The private sector and the public have expressed nearly unanimous opposition to Clipper. In the formal request for comments conducted by the Department of Commerce last year, less than a handful of respondents supported the plan. Several hundred opposed it.

If the plan goes forward, commercial firms that hope to develop new products will face extensive government obstacles. Cryptographers who wish to develop new privacy enhancing technologies will be discouraged. Citizens who anticipate that the progress of technology will enhance personal privacy will find their expectations unfulfilled.

Some have proposed that Clipper be adopted on a voluntary basis and suggest that other technical approaches will remain viable. The government, however, exerts enormous influence in the marketplace, and the likelihood that competing standards would survive is small. Few in the user community believe that the proposal would be truly voluntary.

The Clipper proposal should not be adopted. We believe that if this proposal and the associated standards go forward, even on a voluntary basis, privacy protection will be diminished, innovation will be slowed, government accountability will be lessened, and the openness necessary to ensure the successful development of the nation's communications infrastructure will be threatened.

We respectfully ask the White House to withdraw the Clipper proposal.


Public Interest and Civil Liberties Organizations

Marc Rotenberg, CPSR
Conrad Martin, Fund for Constitutional Government
William Caming, privacy consultant
Simon Davies, Privacy International
Evan Hendricks, US Privacy Council
Simona Nass, Society for Electronic Access
Robert Ellis Smith, Privacy Journal
Jerry Berman, Electronic Frontier Foundation

Cryptographers and Security Experts

Bob Bales, National Computer Security Association
Jim Bidzos, RSA Data Security Inc.
G. Robert Blakley, Texas A&M University
Stephen Bryen, Secured Communications Technologies, Inc.
David Chaum, Digicash
George Davida, University of Wisconsin
Whitfield Diffie, Sun Microsystems
Martin Hellman, Stanford University
Ingemar Ingemarsson, Universitetet i Linkvping
Ralph C. Merkle, Xerox PARC
William Hugh Murray, security consultant
Peter G. Neumann, SRI International
Bart Preneel, Katolieke Universiteit
Ronald Rivest, MIT
Bruce Schneier, Applied Cryptography (1993)
Richard Schroeppel, University of Arizona
Stephen Walker, Trusted Information Systems
Philip Zimmermann, Boulder Software Engineering

Industry and Academia

Andrew Scott Beals, Telebit International
Mikki Barry, InterCon Systems Corporation
David Bellin, North Carolina A&T University
Margaret Chon, Syracuse University College of Law
Laura Fillmore, Online BookStore
Scott Fritchie, Twin-Cities Free Net
Gary Marx, University of Colorado
Ronald B. Natalie, Jr, Sensor Systems Inc.
Harold Joseph Highland, Computers & Security
Doug Humphrey, Digital Express Group, Inc
Carl Pomerance, University of Georgia
Eric Roberts, Stanford University
Jonathan Rosenoer, CyberLaw & CyberLex
Alexis Rosen, Public Access Networks Corp.
Steven Zorn, Pace University Law School

(affiliations are for identification purposes only)

Return to main Clipper page.

Return to the CPSR home page.

Send mail to webmaster.

Archived CPSR Information
Created before October 2004

Sign up for CPSR announcements emails


International Chapters -

> Canada
> Japan
> Peru
> Spain

USA Chapters -

> Chicago, IL
> Pittsburgh, PA
> San Francisco Bay Area
> Seattle, WA
Why did you join CPSR?

I am graduating this year and want to look beyond school to see what the world has to offer.