Progress seen on Clinton crypto export regulations

The latest draft of the US government's revised encryption export regulations is being greeted more favourably by information-technology industry representatives than the last.

The proposal is the second draft issued by President Bill Clinton's administration since the announcement in September that it would loosen export controls on encryption. Members of Congress who support a relaxation of the rules, industry officials and privacy advocates complained that the first draft failed to live up to the administration's promise.

The complaints prompted the administration to postpone release of the final regulations so the draft could be revised. The latest draft is circulating among software and information technology officials for review, a US Commerce Department spokeswoman said yesterday. It has been posted at the Centre for Democracy and Technology Web site (http://www.cdt.org).

The latest proposal comes much closer to fulfilling the administration's promise and addresses many of the concerns expressed by the information-technology industry and the privacy community, according to a statement issued yesterday by Americans for Computer Privacy, which has worked closely with the administration on the regulations.

But the statement also says ACP remains concerned that the draft doesn't "fully appreciate the inherent uncontrollability of encryption."

The administration has set January 14 as the deadline for the release of the final regulations.

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