Continued support for electronic commerce and a laisser faire attitude to the US telecomms industry were two key points to emerge from the first technology-oriented interview with US vice president Al Gore since his re-election.
The vice president, well known for championing the growth of the Internet and information society, talked to 'PC Week' about his current project, leading the development of the US National Information Infrastructure.
Other topics included encryption, the next generation of the US Internet Initiative and the Telecommunications Reform Act.
He said the Clinton administration would continue to promote ?the growth of electronic commerce and robust, secure communications worldwide while protecting the public safety and national security". He went on to explain that exporters of 56-bit key length encryption products - the highly secure software covered by recent US export reforms - would have to commit to develop and support the key recovery system, which enables government agencies to break the code in the national interest. But no key length limits or algorithm restrictions would apply to exported key recovery products, he added.
In relation to Internet Two, the next generation of the Internet Initiative, Gore explained that the government would play a limited role in research and development. "This administration adheres to the policy that the Internet be built, owned and operated by the private sector,? he said. The goal of the initiative, instead, is to identify and develop technology to improve the speed of optical networks, switches and routers in order to stimulate private sector investment.
Gore reaffirmed that no modification would be made to the Telecommunications Reform Act of 1996 despite the fact that consumers in the US have not seen an increase in local service offerings or the promised lower rates. ?We believe that proper implementation should be the first priority for the Federal Communications Commission and the administration. The administration believes market competition and consumer demand will level out telecommunications rates,? he said.
When asked how significant the Internet will be to education in the US over the next four years, Gore replied that he and Clinton had announced an 'education rate' (e-rate) plan to make Internet access affordable to every classroom and every student. ?Even the smallest or poorest schools in America will be connected to the resources of the largest or wealthiest one,? he said.
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