US encryption export rules declared unconstitutional
Patel barred the government from "threatening, detaining, prosecuting, discouraging, or otherwise interfering with" anyone "who uses, discusses, or publishes or seeks to use, discuss or publish plaintiff's encryption programs and related materials." Daniel Bernstein, now a math professor at the University of Illinois, filed the lawsuit in 1995 with the help of the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
On 8/28, at the request of Justice Department lawyers, Judge Patel issued a stay of this injunctive relief, but said she will reinstate the part of the injunction that allows Professor Bernstein himself to discuss and publish his own "Snuffle" encryption code.
How significant is this ruling? A concensus is emerging that the judgement was worded too narrowly to have much impact in the short term, but if upheld could be a significant precedent in future cases. The decision doesn't block enforcement of U.S. crypto export rules, but permanently bars the government from trying to stop Bernstein or anyone else from posting or discussing his particular cryptographic program, Snuffle. The judge delivered a mild slap to the Clinton administration for moving encryption export licenses from the State to Commerce Department in December. "The government cannot avoid the constitutional deficiencies of its regulations by rotating oversight of them from department to department," she wrote.
A sampling from the flood of sound bytes captured by the online press after last Monday's ruling:
"The bottom line is that Bernstein wins," said Michael
Froomkin, an associate professor specializing in encryption
at the University of Miami's School of Law. "But I'm not
sure this would apply to a commercial product." 
Stewart Baker, the former general counsel at the National
Security Agency and a partner at the law firm Steptoe &
Johnson, concurred that if upheld, the decisions would
likely cause the restrictions to crumble. "I would expect
lower courts to have great difficulty distinguishing PGP's
publication from what Bernstein has done with Snuffle," he
said. "The decisions may so weaken the strength of the
regulatory program that the program collapses." 
Officials at the Electronic Frontier Foundation went further,
saying in a statement "The decision knocks out a major part of
the Clinton administration's effort to force companies to de-
sign government surveillance into computers, telephones and
consumer electronics." They went on to call the ruling "a vic-
tory for free speech, academic freedom, human rights and the
prevention of crime." 
After Declan McCullagh spread word of this case on his
fight-censorship mailing list, Gant Redmon As counsel to Axent Technologies, I have already tagged a com-
petitor for putting our name in its meta file. It drew people
looking for us to our competitor. The rule in trademark law is
that you have violated a person's trademark when you use that
trademark to cause confusion in the marketplace. It says no-
thing about seeing the mark. What they are doing is intentional
and wrong. I was thrilled to shut down their deceptive activity.
It has nothing to do with freedom of expression. It has a lot
to do with being slimy.
As counsel to Axent Technologies, I have already tagged a com-
The combination of the Net and increasingly powerful computers
and software properly feeds public angst about the availability
of personal information to all comers.
Two years ago Ram Avrahami sued U.S. News & World Report under the laws of the state of Virginia for selling his name to Smithsonian magazine . He lost, partly because he didn't prove to the judge's satisfaction that his name had value, and partly because he had used a variant of his name to find out who had sold his personal data. Now Avrahami plans to found an advocacy group, to be called The Named, to assert the individual's right to control the use of his/her personal data. This effort lines up with the American Civil Liberties Union's launch last month of its Take Back Your Data campaign .
As the Internet scaled through its seventh order of magnitude,
it was apparent that the growth could not remain exponential
These data speak only to the number of directly reachable computers on the Internet, and don't reflect the numbers of users, domain names, or Web servers. Growth in Web servers continues on an exponential trend, currently at an annual rate of 256%, according to the same report.
The sober search for extraterrestrial intelligence, called SETI, is now approaching its 38th year. The radio telescope in Green Bank, West Virginia that Frank Drake first employed in the hunt in 1961 is again on the job; and it's being joined by the 300-meter instrument  built into a tropical valley in Arecibo, Puerto Rico. Drake's modest Project Ozma inflamed the imagination of Carl Sagan, then a young scientist, who five years later co-authored Intelligent Life In the Universe  with the Russian astronomer I. S. Shklovskii. (Originally Sagan signed on as editor of the English translation of Shklovskii's book Universe, Life, Mind, but his notes and additions grew so copious -- finally equalling the original in bulk -- that Sagan was promoted to co-author.)
For a short while the US government funded SETI research, but all current US projects are privately supported. Ongoing work includes the SETI Institute's Project Phoenix  and the UC Berkeley-based SERENDIP . Working with data from the latter effort, a group called SETI @ Home  is developing software to harness the spare cycles of hundreds of thousands of Internet-connected computers to look for a needle of signal in a haystack the size of the galaxy. This FAQ explains how it will work . Data will start flowing to specially developed screensavers on networked computers next spring. By the time 50,000 PCs are involved, the scope of the search will rival all current SETI projects. The SETI @ home page  ends with a plea:
Aliens: If you're reading this, you can save us a lot of
trouble with one simple email!
The Lear verse forms the lead-in to chapter 29 of Intelligent Life in the Universe , which walks the reader through the now-classic estimation of the number of technological civilizations in our galaxy. (Result: using guesses that looked reasonable in 1966, somewhere between 50,000 and 1 million, separated on average by a few hundred to 1,000 light-years.) To Sagan, apparently Lear's rhyme encapsulated the folly of casting fragile living bodies into the void when radio signals would serve nearly as well.
This morning TBTF welcomed its first subscriber from Kenya -- the second on the African continent, that I'm aware of, outside of South Africa. (My brother reads TBTF in Cameroon. He used to dial a US number to read mail, but there is now a local ISP in Yaounde.) By the time you read this the direct email subscriber base will likely exceed 4,000, in 72 countries .
fight-censorship-- mail email@example.com without subject and with message: subscribe . Web home at http://www.eff.org/~declan/fc/.
TBTF home and archive at http://www.tbtf.com/ . To subscribe send the message "subscribe" to firstname.lastname@example.org. TBTF is Copyright 1994-1997 by Keith Dawson, <dawson dot tbtf at gmail dot com>. Com- mercial use prohibited. For non-commercial purposes please forward, post, and link as you see fit. _______________________________________________ Keith Dawson dawson dot tbtf at gmail dot com Layer of ash separates morning and evening milk.