Security and the Net

September 6, 1996
THE DAILY FED

Security and the Net

The growth of information technology will soon compromise the government's ability to protect the United States' assets, a White House official said at an information security conference Thursday.

Michael R. Nelson, a special assistant on information technology in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, told participants at the fourth annual "InfoWarCon" conference, held in Arlington, Va., that the influence of international organized crime organizations would increase as financial transactions shift to the Internet. Organized crime members, Nelson said, are already some of the most advanced users of the encryption technology essential for cash transactions over computer networks.

Gen. John J. Sheehan, commander-in-chief of U.S. Atlantic Command, suggested one way to combat the threat of organized crime on the Internet would be to combine the National Security Agency with the Central Intelligence Agency. He also suggested new, smaller agencies could be created to police computer networks.

Jonah Seiger, policy analyst at the Center for Democracy and Technology, a non-profit public interest organization, called the Administration's predictions hyperbole. He said the administration misses the point by not discussing specific problems and instead "throwing up this specter of terrorism."

The Center for Democracy and Technology is pushing for Congress to vote on resolutions that would relax export controls on encryption technology and prevent the government from limiting the power of encryption tools.

"Law enforcement has new challenges," Seiger said. "But they have not shown why the viability of the Internet is less important than law enforcement needs--which they have never clearly articulated."

"InfoWarCon '96" was organized by the National Computer Security Association.

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