Presidential Directive Authorizing the Clipper Initiative

This is the confidential Presidential directive authorizing Clipper initiative. (Declassified document obtained by the Electronic Privacy Information Center under the Freedom of Information Act.)

Compare this with the public announcement of the next day.


April 15, 1993
SUBJECT:	Public Encryption Management

Advanced telecommunications and commercially available encryption are
part of a wave of new computer and communications
technology. Encryption products scramble information to protect the
privacy of communications and data by preventing unauthorized
access. Advanced telecommunications systems use digital technology to
rapidly and precisely handle a high volume of communications. These
advanced telecommunications systems are integral to the infrastructure
needed to ensure economic competitiveness in the information age.

Despite its benefits, new communications technology can also frustrate
lawful government electronic surveillance. Sophisticated encryption
can have this effect in the United States. When exported abroad, it
can be used to thwart foreign intelligence activities critical to our
national interests. In the past, it has been possible to reserve a
government capability to conduct electronic surveillance in
furtherance of legitimate law enforcement and national security
interests, while at the same time protecting the privacy and civil
liberties of all citizens. As encryption technology improves, doing so
will require new, innovative approaches.

In the area of communications encryption, the U.S. government has
developed a microcircuit that not only provides privacy through
encryption that is substantially more robust than the current
government standard, but also permits escrowing of the keys needed to
unlock the encryption. The system for the escrowing of keys will allow
the government to gain access to encrypted information only with
appropriate legal authorization.

To assist law enforcement and other government agencies to.. collect
and decrypt, under legal authority, electronically transmitted
information, I hereby direct the following, action to be taken: d 10.


The Attorney General of the United States.. or her representative,
shall request manufacturers of communications hardware which
incorporates encryption to install the U.S. government-developed
key-escrow microcircuits in their products. The fact of law
enforcement access to the escrowed keys will not be concealed from the
American public. All appropriate steps shall be taken to ensure that
any existing or future versions of the key-escrow microcircuit are
made widely available to U.S. communications hardware manufacturers,
consistent with the need to ensure the security of the key-escrow
system. In making this decision, I do not intend to prevent the
private sector from developing, or the government from approving,
other microcircuits or algorithms that are equally effective in
assuring both privacy and a secure key-escrow system.


The Attorney General shall make all arrangements with appropriate
entities to hold the keys for the key-escrow microcircuits installed
in communications equipment. In each case, the key holder must agree
to strict security procedures to prevent unauthorized release of the
keys. The keys shall be released only to government agencies that have
established their authority to acquire the content of those
Communications that have been encrypted by devices containing the
microcircuits. The Attorney General shall review for legal sufficiency
the procedures by which an agency establishes its authority to acquire
the content of such communications.


The Secretary of Commerce, in consultation with other appropriate
U.S. agencies, shall initiate a process to write standards to
facilitate the procurement and use of encryption devices fitted with
key-escrow microcircuits in federal communications systems that
process sensitive but unclassified information. expect this process to
proceed on a schedule that will permit promulgation of final standard
within six months of this directive.

The Attorney General will procure and utilized encryption devices to
the extent needed to preserve the government's ability to conduct
lawful electronic surveillance and to fulfill the need for secure
law enforcement communications. Further, The Attorney General shall
utilize funds from the Department of Justice Asset Forfeiture Super
Surplus Fund to effect this purchase.

/s/ William J. Clinton