Clipper Chip

The right is trying a variation of “Clinton did it” to divert from the NSA illegal wiretapping scandal. In a coordinated effort, they are trying to use the Clinton administration Clipper Chip proposal to justify Bush’s illegal, warrantless NSA spying on Americans, so it’s a good time to catch up on what the Clipper Chip was.
The Clipper Chip was an attempt by the Clinton Administration to bring encryption into wide use. Encryption is eletronically scrambling e-mail messages and phone calls so no one can eavesdrop. The communications are scrambled on one end and descrambled on the other, so in between anyone who taps in only sees or hears scrambled gibberish. The Clipper Chip would be installed in phones and computers.
It is important to understand that right now anyone can listen in on any call or e-mail that is not encrypted. Currently you have to be quite knowledgable and go to some trouble if you want your calls and e-mails encrypted. If you don’t know what I am talking about, you can be sure that your calls and e-mails are not encrypted and anyone can listen in.
So, keeping in mind that Bush has ordered the NSA to listen in on calls and e-mails, and that Clipper was an effort to get calls and e-mails scrambled so no one could listen in, here is what the right-wingers are saying about it now:

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Clipper Chip Again Again

We now know that the Bush administration is scanning every conversation and e-mail with computers, looking for interesting information, and doing this without warrants or any other kind of legal authorization. (Note – The Bush people say they are only scanning communications into and out of the country, and say they are only looking for “terrorists.”) So I have been looking back at President Clinton’s controversial “Clipper Chip” proposal. This was a standardized chip that would go into computers and phones and would encrypt (securely code) every message and call made by anyone in the US, so no one could eavesdrop.
Opponents said the Clipper Chip would have led to the government monitoring our communications. I say it would have prevented what is happening now, and that is why the Right mounted a campaign of disinformation to kill it.

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