As he sat listening during the Clinton Administration’s encryption-policy briefing to the Congressional Internet Caucus meeting on Sept. 28, Rep. Curt Weldon (R-Pa.) began to get visibly angry. The Administration’s representatives, which included privacy czar Peter Swire and Bureau of Export Administration Director Bill Reinsch, were explaining at length how the new policy, which appeared to greatly liberalize the export of encryption products, would operate and what it would mean. Weldon finally couldn’t contain himself any longer and felt compelled to question the Administration panel.

Weldon asked how the Administration could even consider implementing this policy change, given that the Administration has sent lots of high-powered people, including Attorney General Janet Reno and FBI Director Louis Freeh up to the Hill on countless occasions to urge representatives to vote against SAFE (the Security and Freedom through Encryption Act). After all, he said, the Administration has been saying that if encryption is freely exported it will create serious domestic security problems and hamstring our law-enforcement and intelligence operations. Why, Weldon asked, is the Administration changing its mind?

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