next up previous
Next: 5.2 The Clipper Controversy Up: 5 The legal issue: Previous: 5 The legal issue:

5.1 Introduction

Although the Clipper chip controversy seems to have died down, the Clipper initiative is not dead. The U.S. government's attempt to legislate an encryption technology that gives it a backdoor to monitor all our transmissions still lives. That backdoor is Clipper.

The argument is as old as encryption. On one side, you have those in authority who, for the good of the state, want to be able to read or listen to anyone's communications. On the other, you have civil libertarians who insist that everyone has a right to privacy against unreasonable searches.

This conflict exploded into the Internet's consciousness in 1994 when Vice President Al Gore and FBI director Louis Freeh pushed for the use of the Clipper chip and the passage of the Digital Telephony bill. Most of the public furor was directed at the chip, but Clipper and the Digital Telephony bill work hand in glove with each other.

Denis Arnaud