The Cyberspace Electronic Security Act, the drafting of which is

being led by the Office and Management and Budget and the Justice

Department, "updates law enforcement and privacy rules for our

emerging world of widespread cryptography," according to an

analysis accompanying the bill obtained by Federal Computer Week.

Encryption technology, according to the draft, is "an important tool

for protecting the privacy of legitimate communications and stored

data" but also has been used "to facilitate and hide unlawful activity

by terrorists, drug traffickers, child pornographers and other

criminals." The new bill seeks to uncover that activity by allowing law

enforcement officials to obtain the keys needed to decrypt messages

by applying for search warrants or court orders, much as they might

do to uncover other evidence.

The administration is concerned about the use of encryption

technology because advances in recent years have made it

extremely difficult for law enforcement officials to crack a code once

they have intercepted a message.