Europe and the US remain on course for a clash over encryption after this week's Global Information Networks conference failed to bridge their policy divide.
US restrictions on the licence and export of encryption technology are unacceptable, was the clear message from the European attendees of the Bonn summit to speaker William Daley, US Secretary of Commerce. The conference, held at the start of this week, was attended by 40 European ministers and 80 industry representatives, and both groups delivered separate declarations to Daley protesting about US policy on the issue.
Among the US regulations that came under fire were key recovery or escrow schemes, whereby the US government plans to keep a decoding key to any high level encryption software exported. According to the Industry Declaration from the conference: ?Governments should not adopt new regulations that restrict the distribution, sale, export or use of strong encryption, and any existing regulation should be eliminated. In any event, private individuals and corporations should be entitled to generate and manage/store their encryption keys inhouse.?
European government ministers were less confrontational but stated in the Ministerial Declaration they would, ?work to achieve international availability and free choice of cryptography products and interoperable services.?
Ministers also agreed on the need for a strong legal framework for copyright protection, pornography control and fraud prevention.
John Battle, UK Minister for Science, Energy and Industry, called on the conference attendees to maintain a socially positive approach to the Internet. ?It must now be our priority to ensure that the information society revolution will benefit the many, not the few,? he said.
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