PublishedJuly 9, 2002

Civilians, not police, should guide computer security, CCIA says

Washington, DC – Concerned that the FBI and other security minded agencies will eclipse legitimate privacy and commercial interests, CCIA President Ed Black urged House Science Chair Chairman Sherwood L. Boehlert to let civilians, not police, decide the future direction of computer-security efforts.

The danger, Black wrote, lies in a proposal to transfer the Commerce Department’s Computer Security Division from its home at the National Institute of Standards and Technology to the forthcoming Department of Homeland Security. Moving the division out of NIST would skirt a 1987 law that requires civilian control over computer security efforts targeted for the general public.

NIST, at the urging of the National Security Agency, once floated the so-called “Clipper Chip” proposal, which would have given the government the ability to read any encrypted email or other computer document as needed.

“The Clipper Chip proposal was both controversial and technologically flawed,” Black said. “Had it been implemented, the nation’s infrastructure would have been irreparably harmed, and our networks rendered highly vulnerable to attack.”

A copy of the letter has been attached.

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