Encryption Bill Moves

Despite a suggestion from Senate Majority Leader Lott that the Senate Commerce Committee take "more time to let this [issue] percolate," the panel Thursday passed by voice vote a bill imposing additional restrictions on the export of "encryption," or data- scrambling, software programs.

The bill, co-sponsored by Commerce Chairman McCain and Senate Intelligence ranking member Bob Kerrey, D-Neb., encourages the development of a system in which U.S. software makers would turn over "keys" to their data-scrambling programs to government-approved third parties.

Under current Commerce Department regulations, designed after World War II to prevent the sale of munitions to potential U.S. enemies, U.S. software firms may not sell military-grade encryption programs in foreign markets.

The high-tech industry argues it is rapidly losing the encryption market to Japanese and European competitors because of the export restrictions. The U.S. law enforcement and intelligence communities argue, however, that removing the export limits would allow terrorists and criminals to develop virtually unbreakable computer-based communications systems.

The McCain-Kerrey bill replaces a less restrictive measure proposed in February by Senate Commerce Communications Subcommittee Chairman Conrad Burns, R-Mont.

In Thursday's markup, Burns offered an amendment to the McCain-Kerrey bill to remove the key-recovery system, but it was defeated on a 12-8 vote.

In the House, the Judiciary Committee has cleared a measure relaxing export controls on encryption devices, and leading GOP members of that panel have been negotiating with the administration in to reach a compromise.

The administration has objected to a provision in that bill to allow developers of the technology to export products without giving law enforcement agencies a way to crack their codes in criminal investigations.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

    Download
  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

    Download
  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

    Download
  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.