PublishedJuly 1, 1997

CCIA Says Administration’s E-Commerce Policy Recommendations Fall Short on Critical Internet Issues

(Washington, DC) — At today’s release of the Clinton Administration’s Framework for Global Electronic Commerce, Ed Black, President of the Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA) called the report a “visionary effort” but one which is “seriously flawed” in how it addresses encryption and copyright liability for Internet Service Providers.

“By commissioning such a noteworthy analysis of global Internet policy, this Administration has once again demonstrated its commitment to the development of the Internet as a revolutionary tool for communication and commerce. This policy framework correctly makes the case for a tariff and tax-free Internet; against government regulation of content; and in favor of ratification of the WIPO copyright treaties,” Black said. “However, by failing to adequately address issues regarding the protection of information used on the Net, this framework has some rather large holes.

“The success of the Internet will be driven by the private sector, not the government. Yet, this Administration has continuously handcuffed private sector users and producers of technology with unreasonable controls on the most effective method of protecting data, guarding computer systems and securing the Internet. Without an effective encryption policy — one without a required grandiose international key recovery infrastructure — this framework will fall short of its intended goal.

“Internet users do not want their communications under the watchful eye of the FBI or some other unintended third-party. Those critical of key recovery include a distinguished panel of the National Research Council and many of our leading computer scientists. They and many others have determined that a forced system of key recovery poses a significant threat to information security. We cannot afford to embrace such a destructive policy at this critical stage of the Internet’s development.

“The way in which this report embraces the Administration’s key recovery initiative, also gives me cause for concern regarding copyright issues,” Black continued. “Before the Internet can take the next step as a center for commerce, we must address the issue of liability for those companies which provide products and services for the online community. I am disappointed that this policy framework fails to seek a balanced resolution in this area. Overly-broad and burdensome liability laws — as those proposed by this Administration a year ago — would result in a chilling effect on the Internet’s backbone.

“The President and Ira Magaziner get high marks for addressing these issues in a comprehensive policy framework. However, the broad themes in this work (of a market-driven approach–without undue government restrictions) are being contradicted by the government’s position on encryption and copyright issues. I urge the Administration to reconsider its policy on these issues — developed before and outside this framework — so that CCIA can provide its total endorsement of the effort.”

CCIA is an association of computer and communications industry firms, as represented by their most senior executives. Small, medium and large in size, these companies employ over a half million workers and generate annual revenues in excess of 200 billion dollars. As CCIA members, these companies seek open, barrier-free competition for computer and communications products and services worldwide.

[Note: CCIA President Ed Black and several executives from CCIA’s Board of Directors will be present and available for additional comment at today’s White House ceremony unveiling the Administration’s Framework for Global Electronic Commerce.]

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