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The European Commission has released a paper that argues against government control of encryption. The report, which is favored by industry, states that "restricting the use of encryption could well prevent law-abiding companies and citizens from protecting themselves against criminal attacks [and] would not however prevent criminals from using these technologies." The commission has limited legal authority, but can use its status as the top-level office of the multinational European Union to influence the development of state legislation.

Phone Deregulation:
Officials at the Federal Communications Commission are planning to ask the Supreme Court to void a decision by an appeals court to grant state-run boards much control over telephone deregulation efforts. FCC officials claim the decision violates the 1995 telecommunications deregulation act and will slow the advance of new technology and businesses, such as online commerce.

Information War:
More industry officials are protesting the recommendations of the President's Commission on Critical Infrastructure Protection, saying its call for government-industry cooperation against malicious computer hackers threatens industry competitiveness. The protests have come from three Washington-based associations, the Information Technology Association of America, the Computer & Communications Industry Association and the Information Technology Industry Council.

Eight Republican senators have asked the Supreme Court to sharply curb expansive affirmative action laws when it considers the case of Piscataway Township Board of Education vs. Sharon Taxman by early next year. The request came in a legal brief prepared by the Senate's Republican Policy Committee and signed by Republican leaders Trent Lott, R-Miss., Don Nickles, R-Okla., and Larry Craig, R-Idaho. If the court accepts the Republicans' position, it would further undermine the government's set-aside programs for minority businesses, while sparing the Republicans from a bitter congressional debate.

Internet Taxes:
Two critical House committees have approved the Internet Tax Freedom Act, which would bar states from imposing taxes on online commerce. To allay opposition by lobbyists for state and local governments, Rep. Chris Cox, R-Calif., amended the measure to allow some taxes.

-Neil Munro

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