Crypto regulations

From: Henry Spencer (
Date: Thu Aug 03 2000 - 10:49:24 EST

H. Peter Anvin writes:
> First, do the Canadian regulations apply to U.S. law as it exists on
> the books, or it is U.S. law as it applied when the code was exported...

The Canadian regulations never say "see US law" -- this *is* a separate
country! -- they just state that anything exported from the US is at least
potentially export controlled. How this would interact with things like
the Canadian public-domain-software exemption is unclear to me.

Our concern is not primarily with Canadian law, by the way, but with
users' need to be safe from allegations of US-export-law violation, now
and in the future. Such allegations have interfered with the spread of
PGP, for example -- lots of potential users need to have their behinds
fully covered on legal matters.

> Second, it's quite unlikely (IMO) that these regulations will be reversed.
> Why? Because they were -- rather explicitly -- implemented in
> response to (a) liberalized regulations in the European Union (read:
> it was starting to hurt business) and (b) successful court challenges.

I wish I could believe that. The evidence is against it.

The recent changes in satellite export rules have stuck despite the fact
that they are hurting parts of the US aerospace industry quite badly.

And nothing short of a Supreme Court decision can actually *force* the
regulations to stay liberalized. Indeed, it's very likely that one reason
for the relaxation was to try to *head off* such a decision. If the court
challenges die before they reach the Supreme Court, the regulations can be
changed back (perhaps with details fiddled a bit) and the battles will
have to be fought all over again.

(There are blatantly-unConstitutional laws which have been on the books
for half a century because the government has always managed to avoid
having challenges reach the Supreme Court. The laws remain effective and
damaging against people who lack the resources, or the solid case, to go
that far.)

                                                          Henry Spencer

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