The original attempt at universalization was scaled back to where it was actually only intended for "use only by government". In more benign cases adoption by the government as a standard, due to its enormous buying power, often results in de facto adoption by industry and the public. However numerous flaws of the scheme made it essentially Dead On Arrival.
Another "downscale" was the admission that the 10 Megabit/sec. (technical info) data rate limitation of the chip made it impractical for anything but low speed voice and some data communication. The fact that the Capstone, the more speedy brother of the Clipper, is rarely heard of, could be seen to imply a less that eager drive by the government to impose it as a standard.
The most hypocritical and ethically questionable tactic in many peoples opinion has been the pronouncement that the standard is and will always remain voluntary. This is felt to be a very obvious and inept "foot in the door" tactic employed by the administration to diffuse privacy fears. However David Sobel, CPSR legal counsel, places the issue in perspective when he says
The NSA attempted to addressed fears of eventual mandatory imposition of the standard as follows. In response to the following questions from Senator Larry Presler:
This response is far more telling in what it does not address as in what it does. In a way when the Admiral states that "prudent criminals will have to find other less efficient ways to operate", that all but assumes these criminals' inability to use existing means of encryption commercially available which are just as efficient as the clipper chip.
In fact, the government has until recently been acting in a rather heavy- handed fashion to ensure the de facto adoption of the clipper. The most effective of these tactics involves the use of far more stringent export restrictions on non-clipper crypto technologies which imposes undue burdens on hardware and software developers wishing to do business abroad.
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