Commerce Department encryption rules declared unconstitutional

Jonathan Wienke JonWienk at
Mon Aug 25 23:57:48 PDT 1997

At 07:39 PM 8/25/97 -0700, Declan McCullagh wrote:
>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.

So if someone posts a few lines of source code to coderpunks, the
government reserves the right to prosecute, unless the poster's name is
Daniel Bernstein, and the algorithm is Snuffle 5.0.  The judge seems to be
saying "I think Bernstein's case has merit, so I will order the government
to stop hassling him, but since I am too chickenbleep to challenge the
unconstitutional usurpation of power on the part of Clinton, Congress, the
State Dept., and the Dept. of Commerce, I will pass the buck and let the
issue be decided on appeal."  The decision seems to be a step in the right
direction, but a VERY small one.

Jonathan Wienke

What part of "the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be
infringed" is too hard to understand? (From 2nd Amendment, U.S. Constitution)

When everyone is armed, criminals fear everyone, not just the police.

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