Capitol Roundup

Amended Encryption Act<@VM>Only Two Cities Set for Y2K<@VM>High-Speed Internet

House defense and intelligence committees have amended the Security and Freedom Through Encryption Act (HR 850) governing export of encryption technology.

The amendment adopted by the House Armed Services Committee reaffirms the authority of the president to control export of encryption products for national security purposes. It also requires a one-time technical review for all encryption products proposed for export.

The new language gives the president the ability to waive the threshold and allow high-level encryption products to be exported without a license.

Sen. Robert Bennett

The General Accounting Office reports that only two of 21 major U.S. cities, Boston and Dallas, are ready for the year 2000.

GAO reports that other cities will not complete their Y2K safeguards and preparations by the end of the year. Of the 21 cities, seven reported they have contingency plans and 14 said those plans are still in development. Memphis, Tenn., is the only city that does not plan to test Y2K contingency plans.

The GAO findings were reported to the Senate's Special Committee on Y2K.

"We have seen a troubling trend lately, where various sectors report that they plan to be ready later this year but don't report where they are today," said Sen. Robert Bennett, R-Utah. He plans to hold several hearings on the topic over the remaining weeks of the legislative calendar.

Many U.S. cities and states do not plan to be ready until later this year, "leaving them little room for testing, contingency planning and unexpected problems," he said.

Sen Orrin Hatch

The Senate Judiciary Committee is studying the status of competition in the high-speed Internet service and technology markets to determine what legislation might be needed to foster competition.

Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said the committee wants the telecommunications industry to be deregulated in keeping with the Telecommunications Act of 1996. However, it must be done in a way to ensure fair competition, he said.

"No single company should control who can access or develop applications or content for the Internet, whether that company owns the architecture, the hardware, the content or the operating systems needed to navigate broadband pipes," Hatch said at a recent hearing.

Timely enforcement of antitrust laws will become even more important in ensuring a competitive market, he said.

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