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France to reconsider its cryptography laws 16

Liberation is reporting that the French Finance minister, Dominique Strauss-Khan, wants to allow anybody in France to use strong encryption. The official french assizes journal states that this liberalisation of France's currently very strict law should occur in the next few days. Until 1996 one had to ask permission to use any form of encryption, or pay a 6000-500000 FF fine with 2-6 months of prison if found out. Currently encryption that the french authorities can break is legal, but this is not secure enough to encourage e-commerce. (translation)
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France to reconsider its cryptography laws

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  • Posted by Ed Carter:

    How hard is French to learn? :)

  • Damn. I no longer have any reason to boycott France. I guass I'll have to resume drinking French wine even.

    Now, all the French have to do is give up that silly accent and funny language they insist on speaking.

    Seriously, this is great news. I fully expect european countries that adopt such e-commerce friendly laws to dwarf the US in the productive use and development of internet technologies in the not so distant future. Acutally, maybe they already do....
  • All of them, shortly. The EU is pushing through a new law requiring all encryption to be easily broken by law enforcement authorities - national governments have "hardly been involved" according to the Daily Telegraph.

    The UK also wants key escrow - I can't comment on other countries, but the EU seems to manage to do that OK...
  • Fast fix of http://babelfish.altavista.digital.com/cgi-bin/tra nslate?lp=fr_en&urltext=http://liberatio n.com/multi/actu/semaine990111/art990114d.html

    Gouvernenment wants to free cryptology

    With the end of the e-comerce meeting, the Minister for the
    economy and finances announced a lightening of the French
    law on cryptology.

    By Cecile Plet

    January 14, 1999

    I wish to allow use of cryptology accessible to the greatest
    number. france have been late on the subject for a long time and wants now, trough the voice of its Minister for the economy
    and finances, Domenica Strauss-Khan, to lighten the law about crypted communications. With the end of the ecomerce meeting, the minister
    announced that the government was going to ease "in the few next days" the use of crypted communication. Indeed, nowadays, any unauthorized use
    of a crypting system to protect its communications is prohibited by the law, except a few cases. This prohibition limits the e-commerce fields,
    including as well the purchases via Internet as the electronic relations between companies. Hard to send an cost estimation by email when it is known
    that its direct competitor can possibly intercept it and propose a less expensive estimation. With softening its regulation, France should cancel the
    delay it has in this field on many countries. None of its European neighbors is concerned with this type of prohibition. Liberalization? Until today, the
    police forces and especially the army slowed down by any means in order to avoid this authorization. Until 1996, any person crypting documents or
    phone commications had first to obtain an authorization ( for being allowed to use crypting software) from the Central Service for the Secure
    Information Systems. Any people or companies coding documents without authorization were liable to a fine from 6000 to 500 000 FF (1 buck is
    about 5FF) and to a prison sentence from 2 months and up to 6. Today, some crypting software are authorized in France, assuming that that they use
    a key the authorities can easily break, and that scandalizes many Net surfers: we are at the mercy of the " large ears ", told one of them. This breaks
    private life rights and respect. And then we step on the largest debate set by the rise of the Internet. How to make the protection of private life and
    security coexist ? If one wants to encrypt an email for his/her grandmother in a "breakproof" way, or more seriously if a company want to exchange
    confidential datas with another, nothing prevents a terrorist organization to make the same thing. The militants for the cryptology reply that anyway,
    such organization surely did not wait to be certified to encrypt their documents to bypass the security controls. On the other hand, the transparency
    pro reply that this is not a reason to ease their task... But when the two sides are to buy on the Internet, they both require their credit card number to
    be crypted.

  • I love Babelfish. Quite the most endearing patter on the 'net (excepting exceptions, of course).

  • No, the French restrictions on crypto are much more draconian than the US restrictions.

    The US restricts export of crypto, but currently places no restrictions on domestic use. France forbids domestic use as well without a license, and the penalty is jail.

    There are no other democratic countries I know of with a policy anything like that (well, there are some semi-democracies like Iran that ban crypto: I use "semi-democracy" for countries where people vote but power is in the hands of non-elected officials, like kings or mullahs).

  • 6000-500000 FF --> What's that in Euros? ;-)

    Have a nice day everyone!
  • by Sakse ( 10168 )
    I welcome this change in French policy regarding crypto. Now, I'll just cross my fingers and hope for a 'french wave' to other countries in the EU.

An elephant is a mouse with an operating system.