Peter Haefner on Fri, 4 Jun 1999 01:49:30 +0200 (CEST)

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Re: <nettime> Germany Frees Crypto - the translation

On 2 Jun 99, at 14:58, John Young wrote:

> The German cabinet today released a policy statement on
> the unrestricted use of encryption (an English translation
> would be welcome):

Here you are. All the faults are mine however German bureaucrats do 
have their own type of rather dull language as you are going to find out. 
And please bear in mind that I'm no native English speaker ;-)


Federal Ministry of the Interior
Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Technology
Bonn, June 2 1999

Cornerstones of German Encryption Policy

The Federal Cabinet agreed on the German position on the use of 
cryptographical methods in e-commerce in the form of “Cornerstones of 
German Encryption Policy”. 

The government followed the necessity to take position in this nationally 
and internationally vital question important for business and e-
commerce. Security problems are on the rise with growing traffic on the 
net. Experts are estimating the losses caused by espionage, 
manipulation, or damaging of data by billions. Data security is becoming 
a serious issue with global competition and because of that is affecting 
jobs in respective businesses. 

Improved protection of German users on the net by means of better 
encryption methods is the main concern of this decision. It states 
clearly that cryptographic methods and products are furthermore 
permitted to be developed, produced, and used without any restrictions. 
The yet low awareness towards this issue shall be raised by this 
decision. The initiative “Security On The Net” by ministries of economic 
affairs and interior is meant to serve the same purpose 

Another main aim of the German federal government is to strengthen 
productivity and international competitiveness of the German suppliers 
in encryption business which are likely to intensify their efforts with 
regards to a growing demand. The further opening of the European 
single market is serving the same purpose: Germany together with its 
European partners abolished supervision of encryption mass products 
exported within the EU by revising the EU-dual-use-decree. 
Simplification of export supervision procedure are under examination by 
the Bundesausfuhramt (federal export agency?)

With the use of cryptography on the raise improper use can’t be ruled 
out. Therefore the involved ministries will be watching further 
development thoroughly and deliver a report after 2 years. Efforts to 
improve the technical equipment of law enforcement agencies are 

With this well-balanced position the federal government met the 
requirements for Germany being a secure and productive site in the 
information age.

Cornerstones of German Crypto Policy

Hard- and software for message encoding remained until the beginning 
of the 90-ies a negligible niche market. However this niche market is 
now of considerable importance to the economic and social 
development in the information age. The input ”information” is developing 
more and more into a much demanded raw material. Effectively 
protecting this asset could can be crucial to corporate success and 
thus determine on prospective employment. This protection today can 
be effectively ensured only by use of strong encryption tools. 

Controversy on encryption in Germany
The controversy on encryption is about whether or not and to which 
extent cryptography should be restricted by law. This point has been 
discussed recently in many democratic industrial countries in a 
controversial way. An intensive argument took place in Germany too, 
with several ministries, industry, and numerous social groups 

In October 1997 the federal cabinet passed the ”Federal report: Info 
2000: Germanys way into the information age”, containing a passage on 

”The Federal Government agrees on waiving to regulate by law the trade 
and use of cryptographic products and methods. Thus the unrestricted 
freedom of users with choosing and use of encryption systems remains 
not affected. The Federal Government will watch further development in 
the field of cryptography thoroughly particularly within a European and 
international context. Further measures to reach its goals will be taken 
if necessary. ”

So far the Federal Government has not taken stand definitely and 

Cryptography and economic interests
Due to the dynamic development of digital business dealings the 
markets for encryption products note high growth rates. Besides the 
traditional protection of confidence by now encryption systems are 
mainly used e.g. for digital copyright protection, digital signatures, and 
digital cash. Beyond this cryptography is a cross-section-technology 
indispensable for architecture and development of complex e-commerce 
applications. Indirectly much bigger markets are concerned like e.g. 
telecommunication, online-banking, or tele-medicine.

It’s true that present-day security standards, few years ago affordable 
only to large-scale enterprises and administration, are now within 
means of medium-sized and small enterprises as well as private 
households. But still in Germany cryptography is not used in the 
required degree. The necessary security awareness is lacking 
frequently even though considerable losses can be caused by 
espionage, manipulation, or destruction of data. German crypto 
manufacturers would have a good chance of keeping up with 
international competition, if appropriate conditions are ensured. In view 
of the strategic meaning of the cryptographic sector many important 
industrial states spare no effort in order to strengthen their economical 
and technical capacities.

Cryptography and security interests
Cryptographic methods are of outstanding importance for efficient 
technical crime protection. That applies to ensuring of authenticity and 
integrity in data traffic as well as protection of confidence. 

On the other hand protection of confidence is in favor of perpetrators: 
With cryptographic applications becoming more user-friendly spreading 
into criminal circles has to be expected. This could cause serious 
problems for law enforcement. Lawful surveillance ordered by a court 
has to remain effective even if the target guards concerned information 
with a cryptographic system. 

Up to now abuse of encryption constitutes no serious problem for law 
enforcement. However there can’t be derived a forecast from this. It is 
necessary to actively examine possible consequences with regard to 
the specific needs of law enforcement and national security to early 
identify any undesirable development and take effective action against 
them based on alternative strategies.

With the recent national discussion as well as the international 
development as foundations the Federal Government agrees on the 
following cornerstones of encryption policy:

The Federal Government is not intended to restrict the general 
availability of cryptographic products in Germany. It recognizes the 
crucial importance of secure encryption for data protection, development 
of electronic business dealings, and protection of corporate secrets. 
Therefore the Federal Government will actively support spreading of 
secure encryption in Germany. This is meant to particularly promote 
awareness on security issues among business, administration, and 
private people. 

The Federal Government aims at strengthening users to trust in 
cryptographic security. It will take measures to establish a trust 
framework for secure cryptography, particularly by improving the ability 
to check cryptographic products on security and recommending of 
qualified products.

The Federal Government considers the capability of German 
manufacturers to develop and manufacture secure and powerful 
cryptographic products as crucial to security of nation, business, and 
society. It will take actions to improve the international competitiveness 
in this field. 

The legal authority of law enforcement and security agencies to keep 
telecommunication under surveillance shall not be eroded by 
dissemination of strong methods for encryption. Therefore the 
competent ministries will be watching further development thoroughly 
and report after 2 years. Irrespective of that the Federal Government will 
support improving technical competence of law enforcement within the 
bounds of its possibilities. 

The Federal Government sets a great store by international cooperation 
in the field of encryption. It stands up for market developed open 
standards as well as interoperable system and will speak up for 
strengthening of multi- and bilateral cooperation.

pgp-key available

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