OPENING STATEMENT OF CHAIRMAN COBLE
Security and Freedom Through Encryption (SAFE) Act
March 20, 1997 - House Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts and Intellectual Property
Mr. COBLE. Good morning. The Subcommittee on Courts and Intellectual Property will come to order.
Today the subcommittee is conducting a hearing on H.R. 695, the Security and Freedom Through Encryption (SAFE) Act, commonly known as the SAFE Act. H.R. 695 addresses the complex and important issue of encryption.
Encryption, as you perhaps know, is the process of encoding data or communications in a form that only the intended recipient can understand. Once the exclusive domain of the national security agencies, encryption has become increasingly important to persons and companies in the private sector concerned with the security of the information they transmit.
The encryption debate encompasses two main issues. The first is whether there should be any restriction on the domestic use and sale of encryption technology and, in particular, whether domestic users may place their keys in escrow with the Government or some neutral third party. This requirement would provide a mechanism which would allow law enforcement and national security agencies some ability to monitor transmissions. Current law does not have such restrictions.
The second issue is whether there should be any restrictions on the export of encryption technology. Current law regulates the export of encryption technology in a manner similar to military technology.
I commend the gentleman from Virginia, Mr. Goodlatte, for his extensive work in this area and for having introduced this important piece of legislation.