Skip to comments.Echelon; Worldwide Conversations Being Received (Transcript of 60 Minutes)
Posted on 12/19/2005 8:49:50 AM PST by radar101
click here to read article
On April 16, 1993, the White House announced the Clipper Chip. ...
The Clipper Chip is a cryptographic device purportedly intended to protect private communications while at the same time permitting government agents to obtain the "keys" upon presentation of what has been vaguely characterized as "legal authorization." The "keys" are held by two government "escrow agents" and would enable the government to access the encrypted private communication. While Clipper would be used to encrypt voice transmissions, a similar chip known as Capstone would be used to encrypt data.
The underlying cryptographic algorithm, known as Skipjack, was developed by the National Security Agency (NSA), a super-secret military intelligence agency responsible for intercepting foreign government communications and breaking the codes that protect such transmissions. In 1987, Congress passed the Computer Security Act, a law intended to limit NSA's role in developing standards for the civilian communications system. In spite of that legislation, the agency has played a leading role in the Clipper initiative and other civilian security proposals, such as the Digital Signature Standard. NSA has classified the Skipjack algorithm on national security grounds, thus precluding independent evaluation of the system's strength.
Echelon (a partly hysterical review/analysis)
Strong encryption of information may offer resistance to Echelon. Encryption alters the information so that only persons with the decryption code can actually understand the information. Even if Echelon can intercept the message, the contents of the message would not be understood. In 1993, concern over this prompted the US Government to introduce the clipper chip which would provide strong communications encryption for law abiding citizens while preserving "the ability of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies to intercept lawfully the phone conversations of criminals"(16). The clipper chip didn't get off the ground - but there are regular attempts by the US to resist the development and exportation of strong encryption. One of the latest is the Federal Intrusion Detection Network which allows the FBI to "constantly track computer activities looking for indications of computer network intrusions and other illegal acts"(17). The use of strong encryption could be considered by law enforcement agencies as an indication of illegal acts.
Anyone besides me remember the whole PGP flap?
BTTT on your post.
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