CPSR PRESS RELEASE
Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility
P.O. Box 717
Palo Alto, CA 94302
Washington, DC -- A national public interest organization today delivered to the White House a petition asking for withdrawal of the controversial Clipper cryptography proposal. The Clipper plan would provide government agents with copies of the keys used to encoded electronic messages.
The petition was signed by more than 47,000 users of the nation's data highway. The petition drive occurred entirely across the Internet. It is the largest electronic petition to date.
Earlier this year, the White House announced support for the Clipper proposal. But the plan has received almost unanimous criticism from the public. A Time/CNN found that 80% of the American public opposed Clipper.
Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility began the petition drive in January. In the letter addressed to the President, the organization said that if Clipper goes forward, "privacy protection will be diminished, innovation will be slowed, government accountability will be lessened, and the openness necessary to ensure the successful development of the nation's communications infrastructure will be threatened."
The petition asks for the withdrawal of Clipper. It is signed by many of the nation's leading cryptographers including Whitfield Diffie, Martin Hellman, and Ronald Rivest. Users from nearly 3,000 different sites across the Internet are represented. Responses came from more than 1300 companies including Microsoft, IBM, Apple, DEC, GE, Cray, Tandem, Sun, SGI, Mead Data Central, AT&T, and Stratus. Signatures also came from more than 850 colleges and universities and 150 non-profit organizations. Many responses came from public networks such as America Online and Compuserve. Nearly a thousand came from government and military sites including NASA, the Army and the Navy.
Next week hearings will be held in Congress on the controversial cryptography proposal, an initiative developed by the FBI and the National Security Agency. Most of the witnesses are expected to testify against the plan.
In a related development, the establishment of the Electronic Privacy Information Center was announced today. EPIC is jointly sponsored by CPSR and the Fund for Constitutional Government. It will focus on emerging privacy issues surrounding the information data highway.
CPSR is national membership organization, based in Palo Alto, California. For more information about CPSR, contact CPSR, P.O. Box 717, Palo Alto, CA 94302. 415 322 3778 (tel) 415 322 4748 (fax) firstname.lastname@example.org (email).
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