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Clipper Chip[′klip·ər ‚chip]
A chip proposed by the United States government to be used in all devices that might use encryption, such as computers and communications devices, for which the government would have at least some access or control over the decryption key for purposes of surveillance.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
CLIPPER chipA cryptography chip used by the U.S. government for telephone security that used the SkipJack algorithm and provided for key escrow. The federal government tried to make CLIPPER a universal method, because it alone could unscramble the data if required using independently-stored fragments of the Law-Enforcement Access Field (LEAF), which could be reassembled into a decryption key. The CLIPPER chip also included the CAPSTONE chip, which provided the actual cryptographic processing.
The proposal failed because of widespread rejection by the cryptographic community, which pointed out that nothing would preclude encrypting telephone transmissions with some other method before using a CLIPPER-chip equipped telephone unit. See Skipjack algorithm.
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