Commerce Department encryption rules declared unconstitutional

Declan McCullagh declan at
Mon Aug 25 19:40:01 PDT 1997

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Mon, 25 Aug 1997 19:39:35 -0700 (PDT)
From: Declan McCullagh <declan at>
To: fight-censorship-announce at
Subject: Commerce Department encryption rules declared unconstitutional

A Federal judge in San Francisco ruled today that the Commerce
Department's export controls on encryption products violate the
First Amendment's guarantees of freedom of speech.

In a 35-page decision, U.S. District Judge Marilyn Patel said the
Clinton administration's rules violate "the First Amendment on the
grounds of prior restraint and are, therefore, unconstitutional."
Patel reaffirmed her December 1996 decision against the State
Department regulations, saying that the newer Commerce Department
rules suffer from similar constitutional infirmities.

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 with the help of the Electronic
Frontier Foundation.

Patel dismissed the State, Energy, and Justice departments and
CIA as defendants. President Clinton transferred jurisdiction over
encryption exports from the State to the Commerce department on
December 30, 1996.

The Justice Department seems likely to appeal the ruling to the
Ninth Circuit, which could rule on the case in the near future.


More info:

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