In turnabout, McCain sponsors bill to ease crypto export limits

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), a long-time proponent of export controls on encryption
products, is one of a group of senators proposing a bill to liberalize encryption export

McCain, chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, joined
Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Conrad Burns (R-Mont.) to sponsor S
798, the Promote Reliable Online Transactions to Encourage Commerce and Trade Act.

“This bill protects our national security and law enforcement interests while
maintaining the U.S. leadership role in information technology,” McCain said.
“The PROTECT Act would establish a credible procedure for making encryption export
decisions, while providing a national security backstop to make certain that advanced
encryption products do not fall into the wrong hands.”

The bill would permit the export of 64-bit encryption products. Currently, companies
can export 54-bit products. The bill also would create an Encryption Export Advisory Board
that could further relax export limits. The 12-member board would include law enforcement
and national security officials, and presidential and congressional appointees.

Reps. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) have proposed a comparable bill
in the House. The House bill, HR 850, would direct the National Institute of Standards and
Technology to create an advanced encryption standard by Jan. 1, 2002.

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