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Clipper chip
Last modified: Tuesday, March 16, 2004 

An encryption chip designed under the auspices of the U.S. government. The government's idea was to enforce use of this chip in all devices that might use encryption, including computers, modems, telephones, and televisions. The government would control the encryption algorithm, thereby giving it the ability to decrypt any messages it recovered.

The purported goal of this plan was to enable the U.S. government to carry out surveillance on enemies of the state even if they used encryption to protect their messages. However, the Clipper chip created a fierce backlash from both public interest organizations and the computer industry in general. The government eventually retracted its original plan but has since promoted two other plans called Clipper 2 and Clipper 3, respectively.

The Clipper 3 plan allows the use of any encryption technology but stipulates that government law enforcement agencies be able to recover any keys exported out of the country.

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For pages about Clipper chip . Also check out the following links!

Related Links

Clipper/Clipper II archive
Center for Democracy and Technology's Clipper archive. It contains information about various Clipper proposals as well as extensive criticism of the plans.

Cryptography, The Clipper Chip, and the Constitution
Article written by Michael Froomkin, an Associate Professor at University of Miami School of Law, that describes some of the promises and dangers of encryption, analyzes the constitutional implications, and speculates as to how the legal vacuum regarding encryption in cyberspace shortly will be, or should be, filled.
Contains information about cryptography research and commercial products. Look here for information (including photos) about the clipper chip and the clipper key escrow system.

Encryption Policy Resource page
An issues-oriented site containing information United States encryption export restrictions, with links to articles, legislation, events, initiatives, and policies.

EPIC's cryptography policy page
Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) cryptography site. There are links to news and documents, policies, and resources related to cryptography and the clipper chip.

Original White House Clipper Statement
White House statement that announced the Clipper Chip in April of 1993. This statement provides good background information on the specific functions of the Clipper Chip, as well as encryption technology and key-escrow systems.

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Electronic Frontier Foundation


key escrow


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