Belgium bans crypto (fwd)

Luciano Dondero DOND001 at
Mon Apr 1 15:16:53 MST 1996

> From: Jerome Thorel <thorel at>
> Newsgroups: talk.politics.crypto,alt.privacy,
> Subject: Electronic locksmiths are watching you (Belgium's ban on PGP)
> Date: 26 Mar 1996 00:08:44 GMT
> Some hot news about Belgium:
> After reports in two Belgian newspapers (De Standaart and Le Soir), it 
> turns out that Belgium had passed a law in late 1994 that formerly bans 
> "non approved" encryption systems. This means that France is not alone 
> to block domestic use and distribution of strong encryption systems, 
> since a December 1990 law which came into effect in France in early 
> 1993.
> In its March 13 edition, French-speaking newspaper Le Soir ran a whole 
> page survey about the fact that a 21 December, 1994 law oblige the 
> telecom state-own company Belgacom to make any wiretap possible for law 
> enforcement purposes. But little-known sections of the law state that 
> all cryptograhic systems aimed at protecting privacy must not block 
> these wiretaps. Crypto systems have to be "agreed" by the government's 
> Institut Belge des postes et telecommunications (IBPT). The author of Le 
> Soir's article, Alain Guillaume, speculates that this "agreement" means 
> that encryption keys must be kept by IBPT.
> "The idea is neither new nor surprising," Guillaume writes. "To stop 
> criminals from hiding. (...) But does anyone believe that mafia gangs, 
> crooks or terrorists will let their keys to IBPT's hands?"
> =+= France enthrone key escrow =+=
> At the same time, France is keen to give up his isolationist position. 
> French telecom Minister François Fillon has prepared a kind of Telco Act 
> "à la francaise" -- new regulations to prepare the end of France Telecom 
> monopoly in 1998 -- in which encryption would be freed to allow the 
> emergence of "efficient electronic commerce". Under the new rules, 
> special "authorization" will no more be needed to use PGP-like tools, 
> but every user would be obliged to let their keys in custody in 
> so-called "trusted third parties" (TTPs) agencies, a kind of "electronic 
> locksmith", or notary, alternative. The option smells quite the same as 
> Sen. Leahy bill (Encrypted Communications Privacy Act of 1996, archived 
> at, in which escrow 
> agents would hold keys to help the police, with a court order, to 
> intercept communications.
> In France no one knows who will play the role of "key escrow agent", but 
> sources said it may be some independent agencies. Independent? The 
> governement will anyway have to approve them, and Mr Fillon said France 
> will enthrone its first TTP "before the end of this year". 
> This bulletin and the British weekly Nature discovered last November 
> that a group of 18 European nations were soon to adopt this alternative 
> ( /nature-eurottp.html). The UK and 
> Germany have declared themselves ready for such an alternative (see 
> lambda bulletin 1.06). Belgium, with its new iron bullet, would be keen 
> to follow.
> ------------------------------
> Jerome Thorel. Free-lance reporter, Paris
> netizen's lambda bulletin (issue 2.05)
--Luciano Dondero--

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