Keeping It Confidential

There is legislation currently before Congress that would make it possible for individuals and businesses to export the software that is used to send encoded email messages through the Internet. The Promotion of Commerce OnLine in the Digital Era (Pro-CODE) bill, S 1726, and the Security and Freedom Through Encryption (SAFE) bill, HR 3011, would relax U.S. export controls on strong encryption.

Currently, it is illegal to export this software across international borders, although coding technology is permitted within the boundaries of the United States. Without this technology, sending an email message is similar to sending a postcard, in that the message can be read in transit by anyone with the technological know-how to view the data as it passes through the Internet.

Even people who are not using email risk having their privacy invaded without this technology, since there is already a lot of personal data on individuals stored on computers. Restrictions on the export of encoding software affects virtually all consumers, since most people use banking services and/or have medical records that are stored on computers.

Several organizations are supporting Crypto Action Week efforts to lobby members of Congress on these bills.

Details about this effort are located at: http://www.epic.org/crypto/legislation/caw.html. More general information about online security and privacy issues is located at: http://www.privacy.org/ipc/

Who Is Responsible for Electronic Privacy?

With help from NetAction, the Cyber-Rights Working Group of CPSR has drafted and released Electronic Privacy Guidelines that call on government, employers, Internet service providers, software developers and other users and providers of electronic information to share responsibility for ensuring the privacy of electronic communications. The press release tells more.