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Letter from Minister of Foreign Affairs & Trade

The Hon Maurice Williamson, Minister of Information Technology, has asked me to reply to those points in your letter to him of 13 March 1997 which relate to my portfolio. I refer in particular to the third paragraph of your letter.

I agree that protection from fraud is important to the economic development of New Zealand through electronic commerce. The Internet will grow to be a valuable tool in providing New Zealand enhanced opportunities to compete internationally despite our physical isolation from most of the rest of the world.

I do however have some difficulty with your assertion that "there is no requirement for governments to impose controls on cryptographic items". As a member of the Wassenaar Arrangement, New Zealand has accepted an obligation to screen exports of strategic goods, which Wassenaar countries have agreed includes cryptography. We do this by requiring an export license before strategic goods can be exported. This enables us to satisfy ourselves that exports of such goods are bona fide transactions intended for legitimate destinations. Contrary to your belief, other Wassenaar countries do practise and enforce export controls on encryption similar to our own.

You note that "few export licences have been granted for current exports of cryptography products from New Zealand" and that this is a "cause for concern". I agree that relatively few export licences have been granted, but this is because the Ministry has received relatively few applications rather than because it refuses applications. The Ministry provides information to exporters on the operation of the controls on strategic goods, and encourages exporters with queries to keep in touch.

I hope you find this information useful.

Yours sincerely
Rt Hon Don McKinnon
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade

© 1997 The Internet Society of New Zealand

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