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Clipper Petition

CPSR's Electronic Clipper Petition

August 1995

Electronic Petition to Oppose Clipper Please Distribute Widely

On January 24, many of the nation's leading experts in cryptography and computer security wrote President Clinton and asked him to withdraw the Clipper proposal.

The public response to the letter has been extremely favorable, including coverage in the New York Times and numerous computer and security trade magazines.

Many people have expressed interest in adding their names to the letter. In response to these requests, CPSR is organizing an Internet petition drive to oppose the Clipper proposal. We will deliver the signed petition to the White House, complete with the names of all the people who oppose Clipper.

To sign on to the letter, send a message to:

Clipper.petition @

with the message "I oppose Clipper" (no quotes)

You will receive a return message confirming your vote.

Please distribute this announcement so that others may also express their opposition to the Clipper proposal.

CPSR is a membership-based public interest organization. For membership information, please email cpsr @ .

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.

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