White House: Hill slow to fund security

National Plan for Information Systems Protection

The White House Monday called for Congress to "pick up the pace" on funding

information security initiatives within government in the fiscal 2001 budget,

while putting forward legislation to help law enforcement track and prosecute


In a speech at the National Press Club, White House Chief of Staff John

Podesta criticized congressional appropriators for not funding the security

initiatives proposed by President Clinton in January in the National Plan

for Information Systems Protection.

"Good security needs to be updated constantly, and it costs money," Podesta


In the plan and the fiscal 2001 budget, Clinton proposed more than $90 million

for several new cybersecurity initiatives, including the Federal Intrusion

Detection Network (FIDNet), which would monitor federal systems for cyberattacks;

the security research and development Institute for Information Infrastructure

Protection; the Federal Cyber Service training and recruitment program;

and the Expert Review Team to help federal agencies review their security


Each of those initiatives is under a different agency and in a different

appropriations bill. So far, none of them have made it through the appropriations


"Unfortunately, to date, the Congress still refuses to appropriate one dime

to put these initiatives in place," Podesta said. "It's time they picked

up the pace and provided the protections that are essential to America's


Podesta also unveiled four new pieces of legislation that Clinton will send

to Congress to expand on bills already going through committees. Key points

of the legislation include:

* Amending hardware-specific wiretap statutes to apply equal standards to

both hardware and software surveillance.

* Equalizing the legal standards that apply to law enforcement's access

to e-mails, telephone calls and cable services

* Updating the "trap and trace" laws that allow law enforcement to track

the path of cybercriminals on the Internet.

* Updating the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act to treat multiple small attacks

as a single attack and eliminate mandatory jail time for less-serious attacks.

The administration is still looking at possible uses for the Computer Electronic

Security Act (CESA), which Clinton proposed last year to balance the loosening

encryption export controls with the needs of law enforcement and national

security, Podesta said. But for now, the new proposed legislation will stand

in to handle the law enforcement issues, he said.

"We hope that we'll have a fair hearing on them and we believe that if we

work together [with Congress], then we can bridge the gaps between the members

currently considering this on the Senate Judiciary committee by balancing

privacy with the needs of law enforcement and that we can have some legislation

enacted this year," Podesta said.


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