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Working group on data security

Working Group on Data Security

The Administration has created a new interagency working on data security to deal with issues like encryption and digital telephony. This group will be chaired by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and the National Security Council and will include representatives of the agencies that have participated in Presidential Review Directive 27, which called for a comprehensive review of the impact of encryption technology and advanced digital telecomrnunications systems. Agencies participating in the new working group include the Office of Management and Budget, FBI, Department of Justice, Department of Comrnerce, National Security Agency, the Department of Treasury, and the Department of State. The group will work closely with the Inforrnation Comrnittee of the Information Infrastructure Task Force, which is responsible for coordinating Administration telecommunications and inforrnation policy. It will seek input from the private sector both informally and through groups like the National Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee and the U.S. Advisory Committee on the National Information Infrastructure.

The working group will develop and irnplement Administration policies on encryption. Advanced encryption technology can provide better privacy protection for individuals, but can also thwart efforts by law enforcement agencies to use wiretaps to catch and prosecute criminals. The working group will attempt to reconcile the need of privacy and the needs of law enforcement. Last April, the Administration announced development of the Clipper chip, a new computer chip designed to provide better telecomrnunications security without compromising the ability of law enforcement to do wiretaps. The working group will work with industry to develop and apply technologies like the Clipper Chip, to evaluate possible alternatives to the Clipper Chip, and to review and refine Administration policies regarding encryption as developments warrant.

In addition, the working group will coordinate Administration policies regarding digital telephony. As more and more telephone companies install high-speed, digital communications links, it becomes more and more difficult for law enforcement agencies to conduct wiretaps. The working group will work with industry to ensure that new digital telecommunications systems are designed in a way that ensures that do not prevent courtauthorized wiretaps.

For more information on the interagency working group, contact Matt Heymann at NIST Public Affairs (301/975-2758), Mike Nelson at OSTP (202/395-6175), or Ray Mislock at NSC (202/395-4614).

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