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U.S. Department of Commerce
Bureau of Export Administration

May 08, 1997
BXA - 97 - 12

Eugene Cottilli
Susan Hofer
(202) 482-2721


(Washington, DC) The Commerce Department announced today it will allow the export of the strongest available data encryption products to support electronic commerce around the world. Strong encryption products are used by financial institutions and others to generate secure, private electronic transactions, and will form the basis for a private sector managed electronic commerce infrastructure.

Commerce Undersecretary for Export Administration William A. Reinsch outlined the new initiative in remarks to the American Bankers Association. "Today's action supports the rapid growth of secure electronic commerce that relies on a robust security infrastructure, a goal of the encryption policy announced by the Clinton Administration last fall," Reinsch said.

New regulations will be published to allow the export of products specifically designed to support financial transactions. These include direct home banking software of any key length, offered by banks to their customers world-wide. The regulations will also allow exports, for two years, of powerful, non-recoverable, commercially available data encryption products when used for interbank and similar financial transactions, once the manufacturers of commercial products file a commitment to develop recoverable products. Export licenses will be granted after a one-time product review.

These steps are part of the overall Clinton Administration initiative to promote the development of an electronic commerce environment users can trust. The products and institutions that come to make up a robust security infrastructure will permit users from homes and businesses to perform all types of commercial data transactions, ranging from managing investment transactions to purchasing goods and services. That infrastructure will manage encryption and digital signature keys to provide privacy, message integrity, user authentication, and recovery services.

The Administration remains committed to key recovery, a market driven approach which balances the need for strong security for electronic information with the need to preserve the ability of law enforcement agencies to investigate and prosecute serious crimes. Because banks and other financial institutions are subject to explicit legal requirements and have shown a consistent ability to provide appropriate access to transaction information in response to authorized law enforcement requests, key recovery will not be required for the financial-specific products covered by today's export announcement.