Security Portal: What the Lifting of Encryption Technology Restrictions Really Means

“As we approach the turn of the century, one of the most
controversial and challenging issues is encryption export policy.
After a lot of controversy and debate, the Clinton administration
announced pending changes to U.S. export control policy on
September 16, 1999. While the details are still to be worked out,
it appears the White House is supporting the position of U.S.
companies to ease export restrictions on encryption technology and
expects the changes to take effect on December 15, 1999. This would
allow U.S. companies to sell the most powerful data-scrambling
technologies to foreign countries, almost without any

“Part of the plans to relax restrictions on encryption
technology export is the exclusion of the original source code.
Source code are the lines of instructions that programmers write
that is compiled, a process that translates programming source code
into ones and zeroes for reading by a computer. Relaxing the
export of only encryption shrink-wrap software, not source code,
prevents its modification by terrorists or criminals to make
monitoring of their communications by law enforcement more
difficult. This, along with the one-time technical review of
products from high-tech companies wanting to sell encryption
technology overseas, should help meet some of law enforcement’s
concerns about lifting export restrictions on encryption
Companies must still obtain export licenses to
sell encryption technology to a foreign government or military. The
seven nations banned from purchasing U.S. encryption technology
because of their support for terrorism is Iran, Iraq, Libya, Syria,
Sudan, North Korea and Cuba.”