Encryption: Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Wash., rounded up 14 influential senators and 6 representatives to slam the administration's latest encryption plan in a Oct. 15 letter to the White House.

The plan allows easy export of powerful 56-bit encryption technology until 1999, after which companies must incorporate so-called key-escrow technology into their encryption products to enable court-ordered wiretaps. However, the plan is doomed because it is imposed by government, doesn't recognize advances in technology and gives the FBI too much oversight over export licenses, said the letter. Among the signatories were the top two Republican leaders in the Senate and the chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee.

Infotech Companies Fight Digital A/V Standards: A group of 38 major infotech companies have drafted alternative digital video and digital audio standards to boost the role of the World Wide Web, and also supplant the high-definition TV standard developed by television companies. The standard, dubbed the real time streaming protocol, is backed by Netscape Communications Corp., IBM Corp., Sun Microsystems Inc. and Apple Computer Inc., but not their chief rival -- Microsoft Corp.

Universal Service: A government-industry team has asked the Federal Communications Commission to subsidize telecom services for rural hospitals, according to a government-industry advisory panel established by the telecommunications reform law. The cost of the effort should be partly offset by profits from online health care services, said the panel's Oct. 15 report to the FCC.

Technology Trade: Unless governments end their restrictive trade practices, technology trade wars may erupt among the United States, Europe and other governments, warns a new report by the National Research Council. The report, "Conflict and Cooperation in National Competition for High-Technology Trade," called on governments to curb discrimination against foreign technology vendors and to deregulate the world telecommunications market.

Internet Curbs: European officials have begun to develop plans to curb ''harmful and illegal'' material disseminated on the Internet. The flow of information -- on child pornography and bomb making -- would be curbed by industry self-regulation or perhaps by new regulations issued by the Brussels-based headquarters of the European Community, said European officials.

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