Letter from Curt Goering, Amnesty International USA, for inclusion in the briefing materials.
July 31, 1997
To whom it may concern:
The Science and Human Rights Program of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) has told us that they are presenting information to Congress about the use of encryption and digital signatures in human rights work. Amnesty International, USA has worked with the AAAS to develop our use of cryptography within our organization, and we believe our experience would be useful to Congress as members debate this issue.
Amnesty has a need for strong cryptography. The unprotected transmission of information concerning human rights violations could potentially endanger the lives of people who collect and communicate that information. People emailing sensitive information to us must be able to use strong encryption. We must also be able to communicate sensitive information among our many offices worldwide.
US export regulations limit the keysizes of US manufactured security software. We plan to use Lotus Notes for our internal work, and we are very pleased with its many features. However, because export restrictions limit the keysize of Notes' built-in security features, we consider the Notes security inadequate for sensitive material.
We now use digital signatures on our urgent action messages passed across the Internet. Amnesty has become a target of hackers, and to protect our reputation from being damaged by satirical or vandalistic messages being posted in our name, we must give our subscribers a way to confirm that messages truly originate with us, Strong digital signatures offer a way to do this.
The development of easier, more friendly interfaces to encryption software as well as the ability to use strong key encryption would aid us in our work.
Senior Deputy Executive Director