(Washington, DC) — Ed Black, President of the Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA), today applauded Secretary of Commerce William Daley’s remarks that U.S. encryption policy is a “failure” and urged the Administration to immediately overhaul that policy. Secretary Daley made his remarks at a gathering hosted by the Information Technology Policy Council, an informal grouping of 15 major high-tech trade associations of which CCIA is a member.
Black said, “We are extremely pleased that the Commerce Department has now accepted that the export controls system for encryption technology is bankrupt. There is no longer any policy justification for maintaining this system, which Secretary Daley acknowledged is choking one of this country’s most dynamic and competitive industries.
“We are especially pleased that the Clinton Administration is acknowledging that U.S. software companies face stiff competition from overseas competitors. We have argued for years that U.S. encryption policy needs to be changed because our companies are not allowed to sell their best products abroad. Meanwhile, our competitors can sell virtually whatever they want to whomever they want. Those arguments were always dismissed until today.
“The Secretary’s speech reaffirms the finding of the National Research Council’s 1996 CRISIS report which asserted that overly restrictive controls on encryption exports is a lose-lose situation. U.S. exporters lose because they lose sales to their overseas competitors, and national security and law enforcement interests lose because they no longer know what is on the world market.
“We appreciate the Secretary’s commitment to reaching a compromise with industry and we will continue to work with them to reach a workable solution. But now that we all agree that export controls don’t work, the government should lift them as soon as possible.”
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 represent a broad cross-section of the industry, employing over a half million workers and generating annual revenues in excess of 200 billion dollars.