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LWN has a new format. For some time now the "one big page" format has been on the unwieldy side. So we've gone to a multi-page format that we hope will be easier to deal with. For now, the sections and content remain mostly same, the only real change is that things have been split apart. Each page has a navigation bar on the left, and a "next" arrow at the bottom, hopefully making life easy both for sequential readers and for those who want to jump around.

If you have strong opinions on this change, please let us know. Unless the screams of agony are very loud, we almost certainly will not go back to the old format. (And, don't worry, we have no plans to use frames, Java, pop-up windows, etc...).

A minor change we did make was the combination of some of our sections. Both project development, previously listed under Free/Open Source software, and compiler-specific development news (Java, Perl, Python, etc.) which was listed under Software Development are now combined into one section titled Development. In addition, the Links of the Week and Feedback sections can be found on our new Back Page.

The ISN mailing list provided information on the SAFE bill, H.R. 695, a bipartisan bill with over 250 co-sponsors. This posting states that the SAFE bill would prohibit the Government from imposing mandatory "back-door" access to private communications, affirm the rights of American citizens to use whatever form of encryption they choose within the United States and relax the outdated export controls on encryption technology. Both the original bill and the much modified current form can be found by searching for H.R. 695 here.

The original form of this bill was one to warm the hearts of most of us here. It is somewhat difficult to sift through the modified form of the bill to be sure that the original intent, "Freedom to use encryption", "Freedom to sell encryption", and "Freedom to export encryption", has not been lost. Any lawyers willing to take a peek and provide some feedback?

From a brief perusal, it still includes it shall be lawful for any person within any State, and for any United States person in a foreign country, to use any encryption, regardless of the encryption algorithm selected, encryption key length chosen, or implementation technique or medium used and the ability to export without a license any software, including software with encryption capabilities ... that is in the public domain for which copyright or other protection is not available under title 17, United States Code, or that is available to the public because it is generally accessible to the interested public in any form.

Because of this, we strongly recommend that you voice your opinions to your representatives in favor of this bill. This year is an election year, which should increase the responsiveness of your representative to such contacts. Tightened restrictions on encryption are continuing to show up, demonstrated by the recent Telecommunications Law 1998 enacted in Spain.

September 3, 1998



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