WASHINGTON - The Business Software Alliance, a trade group whose members include Microsoft Corp. and other top U.S. software firms, offered lukewarm support for draft U.S. regulations on encryption exports announced on Wednesday (12/30).
The Commerce Department said it will issue new regulations streamlining export controls on encryption software.
A Commerce official said the draft regulations eliminate nearly all restrictions on encryption products sold to the foreign subsidiaries of U.S. corporations. The regulations implement policy changes announced by Vice President Al Gore in September.Software firms nevertheless complained that the rules do little to lift restrictions on exports of mass market software.
"The regulations regarding the Clinton Administration's encryption technology export policy represent an important step towards a more sensible long term approach, but fall far short of the export relief promised by Vice President Gore's statement" in September, said BSA President Robert Hollyman.
He said the proposed rules fail to adequately address mass market software and hardware - industry sectors the group said are growing rapidly.
"It is apparent that the Clinton Administration doesn't yet fully recognize the reality of mass market business in the world marketplace," Holleyman added. "Progress on new, updated and realistic regulations continues to fall behind the rapidly changing technology as well as international rules governing encryption exportations."
The Wassenaar Arrangement , the 33-nation group that monitors military exports, announced an agreement on encryption exports on Dec. 3. Taking its lead from U.S. Ambassador David Aaron, the export group agreed to allow exports of encryption products up to 56 bits for all crypto and 64 bits for mass market software and hardware. Until now, only a few countries including the United States restricted exports of mass market encryption software.
The draft U.S. regulations have been largely dismissed by industry and critics in Congress.
BSA said it will work with the administration and lawmakers in 1999 to reduce export restrictions on mass market software.