Why doesn't Sun release the crypto module of the OpenSPARC? Crypto export restrictions!

zooko zooko at zooko.com
Wed Jun 11 11:05:36 EDT 2008

Dear people of the cryptography mailing list:

I received a note from Sridhar Vajapey, head of the Sun "OpenSPARC"  
programme, which releases a complete modern CPU under the GPL.   
Except that it isn't complete -- the parts that do AES, SHA-1 and  
SHA-2, and public key crypto acceleration are all mysteriously  
omitted from the released source [1].  I have previously posted about  
this issue on this list [2].

I inquired about this with Sridhar Vajapey, and he wrote "US export  
control regulations prevent Sun from opensourcing the crypto portion  
of N2.".  ("N2" is the development code-name for the most recent  
OpenSPARC -- its product name is "T2".)

Appended is my reply.  If anyone on this list knows more about the  
relevant export regulations, please share.



[1] http://www.opensparc.net/opensparc-t2/downloads.html
[2] http://www.mail-archive.com/cryptography@metzdowd.com/msg09090.html

	From: 	  zooko at zooko.com
	Subject: 	Re: Please contact me about open source of the crypto  
modules in T2
	Date: 	June 8, 2008 3:07:02 PM PDT
         To: Sridhar Vajapey
         Cc: Shrenik Mehta, Roberta Pokigo, Simon Phipps

Dear Sridhar Vajapey:

Thank you for the prompt reply.  Having participated in the struggle  
in the 1990's to make crypto freely available and to end the export  
restrictions, and having thought that we won, I am saddened to find  
out that this is why Sun hasn't open sourced that component.

So far, I have failed to understand why the current US crypto export  
regime (see survey here [1] -- be sure to follow the timeline as the  
laws have been relaxed many times over the last decade) doesn't  
permit Sun to post the source code of the crypto components of the  
T2.  It would appear to me that that source code falls under the  
rubric of "publically available crypto source code", as described  
here [2], which would mean that Sun need only send an e-mail to the  
right address giving them the URL of the source code in order to  
satisfy the law.  On the other hand if the source code for building  
chips doesn't count as "source code", then presumably it would count  
as "mass-market crypto" which means that Sun need only do slightly  
more paperwork in order to gain such approval.

If Sun applied for approval of GPL'ed crypto under such a regulation  
and was *denied* by BIS then I would really like to know why.

Another guess, and please don't take this the wrong way, is that NSA  
baloneyed you into *thinking* that you couldn't, or shouldn't,  
release the crypto components when legally you can.  (I have personal  
knowledge of two such extra-legal attempts by NSA to deter crypto  
proliferation in the 1990's -- once with Netscape and once with Cisco.)

Oh, in fact this leads me to another question:  Even in the (in my  
humble opinion unlikely) case that Sun is disallowed from exporting  
the source of the crypto modules to foreign countries, there is  
certainly no law which would constrain Sun from sharing that source  
with US persons within the US.  I originally became aware of this  
issue as a potential customer who was interested in the T2, rather  
than as an activist.  I am a US citizen residing in the US, and there  
is certainly no law which would preclude Sun from giving me that  
source under the GPL.  So, please do.  You can just attach it to your  
reply.  ;-)

Thanks again.  Adding cc: Simon Phipps (the "Open Source Guy" at  
Sun), as I have previously corresponded with him on this topic.


Zooko Wilcox-O'Hearn

[1] http://rechten.uvt.nl/koops/cryptolaw/cls2.htm#us_1
[2] http://www.bis.doc.gov/encryption/default.htm

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