© 2001, 1998, Deeth Williams Wall LLP. All Rights Reserved. By: Michael Erdle

The Canadian Minister of Industry, John Manley, announced the official federal policy on cryptography on October 7, 1998, and at that time, outlined the six elements of his government's policy:

  1. Canadians should be free to develop, import and use whatever cryptography products they wish.
  2. The government will not impose mandatory key recovery requirements or licensing regimes for certification authorities or trustees.
  3. The government will encourage industry-based use and modelling of responsible cryptography practices. The federal government will act as model user, through its current public key infrastructure (PKI) initiative.
  4. Export controls will comply with Wassenaar Arrangement. The goal is to maintain a level playing field for Canadian cryptography manufacturers against those of other countries.
  5. The government intends to streamline the export permit process and make it more transparent.
  6. Legislative amendments will be introduced to protect consumer privacy while providing a legal framework for law enforcement and national security agencies.

Canada does not currently restrict or control the import, production or use of any strength of cryptographic products within Canada. However, Canada does have export commitments pursuant to the Wassenaar Arrangement, a 33-nation international protocol which restricts the export of hardware and some software cryptography products, and products that use cryptography.

The cryptography policy follows extensive public and government consultations. In February 1998, a White Paper entitled "A Cryptography Policy Framework for Electronic Commerce" was released for discussion. The White Paper stressed the importance of accessible cryptography as a building block for electronic commerce.

The text of "A Cryptography Policy Framework for Electronic Commerce: Building Canada's Information Economy and Society" is available at http://e-com.ic.gc.ca/english/crypto/631d11.html

Contact Michael Erdle or any other members of our Information Technology Group for more information on Canada's cryptography policies and export control laws.

Disclaimer: This Newsletter is intended to provide readers with general information on legal developments in the areas of e-commerce, information technology and intellectual property. It is not intended to be a complete statement of the law, nor is it intended to provide legal advice. No person should act or rely upon the information contained in this newsletter without seeking legal advice.

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