700 Club Report on the Clipper Chip

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Date: Tue, 2 Nov 93 04:08:13 -0800
From: [email protected] (Mark Shewmaker)
Subject: 700 Club Report on the Clipper Chip on Wednesday, October 20, 1993

On October 20, 1993, the 700 Club gave a report on the Clipper Chip.
The report was fantastic.  If you want to convince people why the
chip is so very dangerous, and why cryptographic freedoms are so
important, I recommend that you take a good look at this.

Most people don't take to overly technical explanations of things,
at least for the first round of explanations.  This is an excellent
model of starter explanation for such people.

I've included a transcript of the show's Clipper segments.

Notice one important thing:  The report is not overtly religious in
tone.  It does not need to be.  Encryption and privacy issues cut
across many political and religious lines.  There is no need to
alienate the people you are trying to convince by insulting their
group affiliations.

Notes on the transcript:  It includes only the Clipper Chip segments.
The transcript is in three sections.  The first is from the intro to
the show where they show clips of future segments of that days show,
the second is the pre-commercial "Next: The Clipper Chip, here on the
700 Club", and the last is the actual report.

All typos and inaccuracies are mine.  The editing I did to the report
is: (1) remove "uh"'s (2) try to add returns in order to put the speech's
format into some semblance of paragraph form for easier reading, and
(3) change one case of two people talking simultaneously (at the end)
to one person saying a few words, followed by the other saying a few words.

People in the report:  Ben Kinchlow and Terry Meeuwsen are the hosts,
who talk about the stories between themselves, and Julia Zaher is the
reporter for the story.  She speaks both in a voiceover to the report,
and in the report, interviewing Jerry Berman, Lynn McNulty, Lance Hoffman,
and of course Dorothy Denning.

By the way, they showed the Clipper chip itself!  Or, at least they
showed something they claimed to be the Clipper chip.  Unfortunately,
there was no close-up, just the chip in someone's hand, with the chip
taking about a sixteenth of the screen.  It looked like a 28 pin PLCC
package, with the cheaper tin plated leads.  Odd that there are so few pins.

Here's the transcript:

[The following was clipped from the intros to the that day's topics]

Ben Kinchlow:
               We've also got a word of caution for you because
               very soon, if you're familiar with this song:
               _Every_Move_You_Make,_Every_ _Step_You_Take:  The
               federal government could be watching you!

Jerry Berman:
                We are going to conduct our lives in electronic
                media:  Order our movies, order our television
                shows, decide what schools we send our children
                to, what programs we want to, what products we
                want to buy, what magazines we want downloaded
                into our homes.

Ben Kinchlow:
               And if you're a big fan of large government, this
               tiny computer chip could now give the government,
               Big Brother, instant access to every detail of your
               private life.

               And we'll have details of that still to come.


Terry Meeuwsen:

[The following is the pre-commercial message.]

Ben Kinchlow:
               Well coming up next... The clipper computer chip.

               It could be a key to invading your privacy.

               We'll have that for you as the 700 club continues.

[The following is the actual report.]

Terry Meeuwsen: The famous line from the book _1984_ was
                "Big Brother is watching you", and in the future,
                that could prove to be true.

                How would Big Brother watch you?

                What method would he use?

                Some privacy experts fear the means could be--
                a computer chip.  CBN News correspondent
                Julia Zaher brings us the story from Washington.

Julia Zaher:
            The way we communicate is changing rapidly.  It won't
            be long before our telephone, our computer, and
            perhaps even our television will all be one device.

            Jerry Berman of the Electronic Frontier Foundation
            says we'll use that device to conduct most of our
            daily business, our personal business; and for some of
            us, our professional business.

Jerry Berman:

                We are going to conduct our lives in electronic
                media:  Order our movies, order our television
                shows, decide what schools we send our children
                to, what programs we want, what products we want
                to buy, what magazines we want downloaded into our

Julia Zaher:
              Berman and others in the communications and computer
              industries welcome the innovative technology, but
              they also worry that a new danger is threatening the
              privacy of every American. The danger is that a
              computerized record of nearly all of our activities
              will be constantly accumulating.  That record could
              show virtually every move we make, from what we buy,
              to how much money we make, to what political causes
              we support.

              To protect our privacy, Berman and others believes,
              more people will start doing what the government and
              the military have done for decades:  Add scrambling
              devices to telephones and computers, to keep
              outsiders from tapping into important information
              and conversations.  That process of coding and
              decoding information is called encryption.

Jerry Berman:
                Today we don't think of encrypting our
                communications, but it will be done with a flick
                of a button.

Julia Zaher:
              Already, AT&T makes a scrambling device for
              telephones.  Many businesses, especially those with
              overseas offices, use these scrambling devices

              They also take advantage of the almost 300 computer
              software programs available to code and decode
              computer programs and electronic mail.

              The Clinton administration has taken a great
              interest in this information revolution, and the
              government has invented its own scrambling device.

Lynn McNulty:
               This is one of the clipper chips.  The chip itself
               costs about twenty-five dollars.

Julia Zaher:
              The new invention is known as the Clipper chip.  The
              chip is supposed to provide the strongest possible
              method of coding phone, FAX, and computer
              transmissions to prevent unwanted eavesdropping.

              The chip is supposed to be on the market soon.

              Lynn McNulty is with the National Institute of
              Standards and Technology, known as NIST for short.

              President Clinton has commissioned NIST to help make
              the Clipper chip the highest standard for scrambling
              information.  The White House wants to see more
              businesses and individuals use the Clipper chip to
              protect their communications once it's on the market.

              The reportedly unbreakable scrambling code in the
              chip would be a big plus in the fight to keep
              information private.

              But there's a catch.

Lynn McNulty:
               A good part of the technical details of the, that
               underlie the standard will not be made public,
               which is a departure from the way we've done
               business in the past.

Julia Zaher:
              The details of how Clipper works and the keys that
              can break the code are all being kept secret by the

              That has nearly everyone in the computer and
              communications industries alarmed.

              Lance Hoffman is a computer science and encryption
              coding and decoding expert.

Lance Hoffman:
                The administration wants to control the whole
                process, and wants the government to control all
                the keys, is what it boils down to--that's the
                real problem.

Julia Zaher:
              The government says it alone must hold the keys that
              can break Clipper's private scrambling code.  That
              would mean that only government agencies could
              eavesdrop on computer and telephone transmissions.
              Private agencies, or individuals like private
              detectives couldn't do it.

              The FBI and other law enforcement agencies say,
              instead of getting court orders for wiretaps, in the
              future they'll be routinely requesting codes that
              are scrambling computers and telephones.

              Dorothy Denning is one of the five outside computer
              experts who had the chance to examine the Clipper
              chip and try to break its code.

Julia Zaher:
              And what happened?

Dorothy Denning:
                  I failed.  I didn't break it.

Julia Zaher:
              There was no way you could break it?

Dorothy Denning:
                  There was no way I could break it.

Julia Zaher:
              Denning is one of the very few people in the
              computer science field who sees no danger in the
              government holding the only keys that can break
              Clipper's code.

Dorothy Denning:
                  ...And this initiative does not in any way to
                  expand the government's authority to intercept

Julia Zaher:
              Denning also says Clipper's unbreakable code would
              make it more difficult for police or the FBI to do
              illegal wiretaps.

              But Hoffman and many others disagree.  They say that
              all of the secrecy about how clipper works, combined
              with the government alone holding the keys to break
              the code, would put the privacy of everyone using
              clipper in jeopardy.

              Hoffman says that while the chip is just one of many
              scrambling devices now, the government could
              eventually argue that everyone coding their
              information must use clipper

Lance Hoffman:
                There's no reason they couldn't change their mind
                at a later point and say "well we tried it
                voluntari..." "We tried it as a voluntary measure,
                it doesn't work, so now it's going to be

Julia Zaher:
              Privacy advocates like Jerry Berman point out the
              government has been known to spy on citizens when it
              believes they hold dangerous political opinions.

Jerry Berman:
                There are good governments, there are bad
                governments.  We've gone through abusive periods
                where we've had intelligence agencies chasing
                different political dissidents from the right and
                left around.

                We worry about these things.

Julia Zaher:
              Computer coding and decoding standards may all seem
              irrelevant at this point, but they'll be important
              in the future to protect your privacy.

              The government's Clipper chip is the most powerful
              coding and decoding device developed so far.

              It hasn't been decided yet if Clipper will be the one
              national standard used to protect electronic
              privacy, but if it is, it could also pose the
              greatest threat, if those decoding keys, held by the
              government, fall into the wrong hands.

              Julia Zaire, CBN News, Washington.

Ben Kinchlow:
               And some of us would say that the wrong hands for
               them to fall into is the government!  You know.

               What your talking about here, essentially, is a
               giant superhighway.  This is what the President,
               Vice-President Gore is recommending--that we have
               this super-highway, which on the surface is
               wonderful.  It enables us all across the world to hook up and,
               you know, exchange information and communications
               with people, and that's a wonderful idea, and we
               need to take full advantage of what's going on in
               technology today:  Marvelous things.

               Like one of our cameramen is hooked up to something
               called Internet, where you can pull out files from
               the university of Tokyo, if you will.

               I mean, it's a wonderful idea.

               The problem is, when the government comes in and
               starts saying, "The only" I mean, everybody has
               this scrambling device, but the only people who
               can unscramble this device is the government.

               But the government says that "we must have this"
               in order to track down criminals and terrorists.

               The problem is, "criminals and terrorists"
               eventually become who the government says
               "criminals and terrorists" are.

               And it will not be long before anybody who
               disagrees with the government, then, can become a
               criminal, and his whole activities can be tracked

               And indeed what Orwell said about 1984 becomes a

               The Big Brother has the capacity to watch you,
               track you.

               And by the way, interestingly enough, they do
               have, and have developed, a small uh

Terry Meeuwsen:
                 Oh, I don't want to know this

Ben Kinchlow:
               tracking device that goes under

Terry Meeuwsen:
                 Under the skin?

Ben Kinchlow:
               under your skin.  In fact, they used some of it,
               according to one report I read, over in the war
               that just took place in the middle east, so they
               could track our men by satellite.

Terry Meeuwsen:
                 Well, you know [sigh], the bottom line is that
                 it's the same thing we've been hearing day after
                 day after day: More government control, more
                 government control. So, we need to hear that...

Ben Kinchlow:
               The operative word here being 'control.'

Terry Meeuwsen:

Ben Kinchlow:
                Watch it.