IBM to provide Lotus Notes Encryption Key to U.S. Government

[14 February 1996]
From the Wall Street Journal, January 18, 1996, p. B7:
IBM has agreed to provide the U.S. government with a special key that would enable government agents to more easily decode electronic messages, in exchange for permission to export a version of Lotus Notes that includes 64-bit security. The arrangement provides government officials with a key to the first 24 bits of security code, meaning that they only have to crack the remaining 40 bits to decrypt a message. U.S. Notes customers already use a 64-bit system. "We were desperate enough to try to negotiate a short-term, pragmatic solution," says Notes developer Ray Ozzie. "But we do not believe this is the right long-term solution... Our customers have been telling us that, unless we did something about the security, we could no longer call it a secure system."
[In late December 1995, Integrated Computing Engines, Inc. (ICE) of Cambridge, Mass., reported that it had cracked a 40-bit DES encryption key in less than 8 days using a single $83,000 computer. See also the following item. -- CEL]