In late 1997, at least six bills or amendments on the use of encryption were either introduced or circulated in draft form. Seven congressional committees considered encryption legislation. A clear trend is emerging from these developments. Law enforcement and national security interests favoring restrictions on encryption are quickly growing further apart from civil liberties groups and computer and telecommunications industry associations favoring liberalization of encryption rules. The rifts have grown wide enough to induce at least one interested group to predict that no satisfactory compromise could imminently be possible and to cease advocating the passage of encryption legislation in the short term. This article surveys the current landscape of the encryption debate, and analyzes the major legislative proposals. By identifying their major provisions and policy decisions rather than advocating a particular solution, this article attempts to be a resource for those involved in the ongoing encryption debate.

Adam White Scoville *