Security Chief Who Shuns Publicity | NY TIMES | OCT 30, 1975
Gen. Lew Allen, Who Lifted Veil on Security Agency, Is Dead at 84 | NY TIMES | JAN 8, 2010
JPL Mourns Passing of Former Director Lew Allen Jr. | NASA | JAN 5, 2010
General Lew Allen | US Air Force
Mixed Signals In The Debate Over Encryption Technology | CNN | 1998
While most agree that encryption is a key element in the growth of electronic commerce, a long-running debate has raged involving the high-tech industry, government officials and lawmakers over how far the government should go in restricting the technology’s use. High-tech companies have been pushing to export much stronger encryption products than currently allowed.
The Clinton administration has been reluctant to relax export controls on encryption. It is worried that easing controls may hinder law enforcement and intelligence gathering when the technology is used to block access to communications or data.
But high-tech companies argue that restrictions are doing little to control the spread of strong encryption. Instead, they argue that these restrictions are making it increasingly difficult for U.S. companies to compete with foreign competitors.
Just how serious the issue is becoming was apparent June 9 when top law enforcement officials met with a half-dozen executives of high-tech companies to discuss both sides of the issue.
Among the participants in the meeting, hosted by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., at her office, were FBI Director Louis J. Freeh and Attorney General Janet Reno, as well as Microsoft Corp. Chairman Bill Gates, Scott McNealy, chief executive of Sun Microsystems Inc., and Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz.
The FBI’s Case
The White House’s policy has been driven by fears of law enforcement and national security officials that loosening export controls would lead to the widespread use of unbreakable encryption by criminals and terrorists who want to hide their illegal activities.
As the use of encryption becomes more commonplace among criminals, law enforcement officials are concerned that their ability to use wiretaps and other legal means to gain valuable evidence will be thwarted if communications or stored data is coded with unbreakable encryption.
While still relatively small, the number of FBI cases involving computerized evidence where encryption was used increased from 3 percent to 7 percent in the last several years. And FBI officials expect it to continue rising.
Freeh took the debate one step further in 1997 by calling for restrictions on the use of encryption products within the United States — comments that sent waves of panic throughout the technology industry. (1997 CQ Weekly, p. 2140)
The FBI has been “trying to find a balance in which we can still do our job and do our job in the future as this proliferates. We hope strong encryption proliferates from a business part and from a privacy part — but how can we do it in such a way . . . that doesn’t [hurt] us,” said FBI deputy Assistant Director Edward L. Allen in an interview.
The FBI has been pushing to require manufacturers to ensure that law enforcement has some way to gain access to a decrypted version of stored data or communications.