OT?-Clinton OK's Computer Deal with China-US Intell Against

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Brian Williams, CNBC, tonight mentioned almost in passing that a deal had been struck with China whereby they can now purchase some of our most sophisticated computers. He further said that our intell community was against it. Anyone heard anything solid on the subject?

-- Neil G.Lewis (pnglewis1@yahoo.com), September 16, 1999


I have it on good hearsay the Chinese are going to help pay off Willie's new shack.

-- Porky (Porky@in.cellblockD), September 16, 1999.

U.S. Relaxes Encryption Export Limits WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Clinton Thursday moved to relax U.S. controls on the export of computer data scrambling technology, a step long sought by the U.S. computer industry and resisted by federal law enforcement officials.

Warning that the new policy would make it easier for criminals and terrorists to cloak their activities, administration officials said they would seek greater funding for counter-efforts to crack data scrambling, or encryption, products.

The relaxed export limits ``will result in greater availability of encryption, which will mean that more terrorists and criminals will use encryption,'' Attorney General Janet Reno conceded at a White House briefing.

``We must deal responsibly with that result by attempting to assist law enforcement in its efforts to protect the public safety,'' Reno added, touting proposed legislation to create an $80 million special technical center to aid law enforcers.

Under the current rules, strong encryption products made by U.S. companies to secure telephone conversations, computer files or e-mail from would-be eavesdroppers cannot be sold outside the United States except in limited circumstances such as to banks, insurance companies and health care providers.

But the new policy, to take effect in a few months, would allow sales of strong encryption products worldwide except to foreign governments and militaries. The government would get a one-time chance to examine each product and sales to a handful of countries including Iraq and Libya would continue to be banned.

The about-face came as lawmakers were weeks away from voting to overturn the White House's strict export limits.


The move was also announced just a day before Vice President Al Gore was to visit California seeking votes and campaign donations from the many high-tech firms that have pushed for relaxed encryption export limits.

Until now, the White House had tilted its export policy toward the needs of law enforcement and national security agencies, which feared that strong encryption would be used by rogue nations and criminals to thwart U.S. surveillance.

But the high-technology industry, Internet users and privacy groups appear finally to have won the debate, arguing that the export rules were simply handing a vast, international market to non-U.S. companies.

The previous policy was a hindrance for Gore in his 2000 Presidential bid. ``This has been a big thorn in Al Gore's paw for two years now and they were finally able to remove it,'' a leading Republican lobbyist said.

Deputy Secretary of Defense John Hamre denied that the new policy represented a victory for industry over the needs of law enforcement. ``That's just completely wrong,'' he said at a White House briefing. Defense and national security agencies strongly support the new approach, he added.

Outside of the administration, however, encryption experts said the new policy recognized the reality that data scrambling technology was increasingly available from non-U.S. companies -- exactly the argument made by opponents of the old rules.

``This is going to be a severe blow to national security interests and it is going to hurt law enforcement,'' said Stewart Baker, former general counsel to the National Security Agency, the U.S. intelligence agency charged with eavesdropping and codebreaking around the world.

But Baker, a lawyer representing high-tech companies, said the change was inevitable, given the growing availability of encryption from non-U.S. companies. ``If they had delayed much longer, there was a real risk that large parts of the encryption technology would have moved off-shore irretrievably,'' he said.


Industry officials welcomed the change, which had been a major lobbying priority for years.

``It speaks very highly to their ability to see the writing on the wall and do exactly what they needed to do,'' said Lauren Hall, chief technology officer for the Software and Information Industry Association.

The current slow and cumbersome licensing process made it extremely difficult for U.S. companies such as Network Associates and RSA Security to sell their popular computer security products overseas.

And for makers of mass-market software, such as Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq:MSFT - news) and IBM Corp., the rules forced companies to weaken the security in Web browsers, e-mail programs and other products.

Under the new rules, exporters will have to report who bought their products, such as an overseas distributor, but not who the ultimate end-user was -- an impossible requirement for programs sold in retail stores to millions of customers.

And the administration planned to ask Congress to pass a law establishing legal standards for when law enforcement agencies can force encryption users to crack open their encrypted data.

That could run afoul of civil liberties groups. Twice in the past few months privacy groups have sounded the alarm over White House proposals to enhance surveillance of ordinary computer users.

``This opens a new and very important debate about the circumstances under which the government should have access to our most sensitive data,'' said Alan Davidson, staff counsel at the nonprofit Center for Democracy and Technology. ``We remain concerned that the standards being put forward will not adequately protect privacy in cyberspace.''

-- Linda (lwmb@psln.com), September 17, 1999.

Any day now, Gore will find the Silver Bullet. I wonder if he'll be able to dig it out of Clinton in time.........?


-- Will continue (farming@home.com), September 17, 1999.

Israel had 42 kings'before they fell into captivity--clinton is 42nd president.''bill'bill-king of the hill--repent while you can,or swallow GODS=pill''

-- signs of times. (dogs@zianet.com), September 18, 1999.

Are there any out there that remember the argument of big business and govt in selling scrap metal to the Japanese prior to WWII? The same argument is being used now with this computer sale. The scrap metal fiasco cost many thousands of American lives. We once again are trading dollars for blood.

-- Neil G.Lewis (pnglewis1@yahoo.com), September 18, 1999.

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