Washington, D.C., March 29, 1999 – The Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA) last week endorsed encryption legislation, the Security and Freedom Through Encryption, (SAFE) Act, that would provide significant export relief to both generally available and custom-designed computer software and hardware products.
In a letter to Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee Henry Hyde, CCIA President and CEO Ed Black urged Hyde to endorse the SAFE Act (H.R. 850), noting that the bill “establishes in law the right of all Americans to use encryption to protect their vital information and private communications, [setting] an important example to the world that our citizens’ right to free and secure communications will not be abridged, and neither should the freedom of any people.”
CCIA is an international, nonprofit alliance of computer and communications firms. Its membership includes CEOs and senior executives representing, among other businesses, computer equipment manufacturers, software providers, communications and networking equipment manufacturers, and telecommunications and online service providers.
The U.S. government prevents American manufacturers from exporting strong encryption products, such as firewalls, secure browsers and e-mail programs, thereby preventing them from competing fairly with foreign companies. In his letter, Black indicated the importance of the legislation to the U.S. economy as well as to U.S. national security, saying, “As a result [of the current export controls], we are losing our advantage in this extremely important industry, which could cause lasting and irreparable harm to our economy, our electric infrastructure, and our national security.”
“The SAFE Act will change this course and establish a more rational and workable national encryption policy.” Black said.
If approved, the SAFE Act would limit the government’s ability to restrict strong encryption product exports. Consequently, the Act would allow consumers to secure their electronic transactions to protect their private records and data.
The SAFE Act passed the House Judiciary Committee last Wednesday and is now under consideration by the International Relations Committee.