Quote of the day–Philip Elmer-Dewitt

In a Time/CNN poll of 1,000 Americans conducted last week by Yankelovich Partners, two-thirds said it was more important to protect the privacy of phone calls than to preserve the ability of police to conduct wiretaps. When informed about the Clipper Chip, 80% said they opposed it.

The battle lines were first drawn last April, when the Administration unveiled the Clipper plan and invited public comment. For nine months opponents railed against the scheme’s many flaws: criminals wouldn’t use phones equipped with the government’s chip; foreign customers wouldn’t buy communications gear for which the U.S. held the keys; the system for giving investigators access to the back-door master codes was open to abuse; there was no guarantee that some clever hacker wouldn’t steal the keys. But in the end the Administration ignored the advice. In early February, after computer- industry leaders had made it clear that they wanted to adopt their own encryption standard, the Administration announced that it was putting the NSA plan into effect. Government agencies will phase in use of Clipper technology for all unclassified communications. Commercial use of the chip will be voluntary — for now.

Philip Elmer-Dewitt
March 14, 1994
Who Should Keep the Keys?
[Those that criticize Republicans for “spying on U.S. citizens” forget how hard the Clinton administration worked to do the same thing.–Joe]