Set Top Box Subject to US Crypto Export Controls

A $300 set-top box being built in the U.S. by Sony and Philips Electronics that encrypts communications between the box and its server with 128-bit keys has consequently been classified as requiring a special export license, according to a report by John Markoff in the New York Times, November 8. If the box incorporated the new "key recovery" scheme that the administration announced in early October (see Cipher EI #17), the 128-bit crypto would not be a bar to its export. Or, if the producers could show plans to implement a key recovery sceme, they would presumably be permitted to export a version that restricted itself to using 56-bit keys.