Clinton aides fight for cybersecurity bill
- By Diane Frank
- Jan 25, 2000
Senior Clinton administration officials are urging Congress to support a
bill that would provide a defense against criminals who now have access
to more secure communications thanks to new encryption export
regulations released this month.
In a letter to House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-Texas) dated Jan. 7,
Attorney General Janet Reno said the Cyberspace Electronic Security Act
(CESA) is a "critical component" to the administration's new security
and encryption policy.
CESA would be used to balance law enforcement's concerns that new
encryption export regulations, which allow U.S. vendors to sell stronger
encryption products overseas, will make it harder for agencies,
including the Justice and Defense departments, to track and catch
criminals and terrorists.
"We believe that passage of CESA is critically important to ensure
continued legitimate law enforcement access in the face of greater use
of encryption," Reno stated. Deputy secretary of Defense John Hamre and
Commerce Secretary William Daley co-signed the letter.
The letter also responded to concerns from Armey and civil rights
advocates about a section in the original version of CESA that would
have allowed law enforcement agencies to execute search warrants without
informing the person whose property they were searching right away. The
administration removed that section in its revision of the bill and does
not plan to rely on new legislation to gain such rights, according to
"Although we continue to be concerned that criminals and terrorists will
use strong encryption to cloak their communications and other evidence
of illicit activities from authorized law enforcement investigations, we
will attempt to use general authorities to meet this threat," the letter