White House Eases Encryption Export Policy

The White House announced a new policy on Monday designed to ease restrictions on export of strong encryption. Under the new policy, U.S. companies may now export formerly restricted products to the 15 nations of the European Union (EU) without the need for an export license. In addition to the EU, companies may also export without license to Australia, Norway, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Japan, New Zealand and Switzerland. According to the announcement, U.S. exporters will be permitted to ship their products to these nations immediately after submitting a commodity classification request to the Department of Commerce, instead of waiting for a completed technical review or incurring a 30-day delay.

Vice President Al Gore took credit for the new policy, saying that it stems from work he initiated in September of 1998. "Our work, which grew out of discussions between government and American industry, law enforcement and privacy advocates, was designed to promote electronic commerce while protecting our national interests in law enforcement, privacy and national security. Today, that mission continues with an important announcement regarding encryption exports to the European Union and other nations."

White House Chief of Staff John Podesta said, "These updates track with recent regulations adopted by the European Union that ease encryption exports to the same countries." Podesta said the updated policy will promote electronic commerce, support law enforcement and national security, protect privacy, and help to maintain U.S. industry leadership in security technologies

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