Former FBI chief takes on encryption

Tuesday, 15 October 2002, 11:06 AM EST

In dozens of hearings and public speeches, the FBI director would urge Congress to limit encryption products, such as Web browsers and e-mail scrambling utilities, that did not include backdoors for government surveillance.

Freeh didn't succeed. In fact, the Clinton administration veered in the opposite direction and eventually permitted, with few restrictions, the overseas shipments of data-scrambling products.

But Freeh, who left the FBI in June 2001, hasn't given up. During an appearance before the Senate Intelligence committee last week, he warned that the political reality after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks means that it's time to reconsider what to do with encryption.

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