Mr. President, I rise today to introduce the "Pro-CODE" bill, or The Promotion of Commerce Online in the Digital Era Act of 1996, with the following cosponsors: the distinguished Majority Leader Senator Dole; Senator Pressler, Senator Leahy, Senator Murray, Senator Wyden, Senator Nickles, Senator McCain, Senator Ashcroft and Senator Faircloth. Like the title of the bill states, my primary objective with this legislation is to promote commerce both domestically and abroad. But I have two other goals that I believe will be achieved by Pro-CODE: one is to improve the competitiveness of American software companies with their foreign competitors, the other is to protect the intellectual property and privacy or both businesses and individuals. Mr. President, Pro-CODE would have a profound impact on our economy and the way each of us lives our life from day to day. It's a relatively simple bill, but it deals with a term few of us are familiar with: encryption. Encryption is simply the use of a string of letters or numbers or a "key" to render our computer files and transmissions unreadable by people who have no business reading them. If you have the right key, you can unlock the code and have access to that information. Unfortunately, American businesses and computer users face a threat and it's a threat from their own government because the current administration won't let American companies export encryption at a level higher than 40 bits. That's a fancy word, but it means is that it's a level of security that can be cracked by your basic supercomputer in about one-thousandth of a second at a cost of a tenth of a cent. Companies can sell stronger encryption here at home, but it's too expensive to create two different standards, so they don't. What this means is that commerce and communication on computer networks including the Internet is not reaching its full potential. How many of you would feel secure sending your credit card number over the Internet especially when you learn that reported invasions by computer hackers increased nine-fold between 1990 and 1994? Or when Internet World magazine estimates that the actual number of unwanted computer penetrations in 1992 alone was 1.2 million? If you were a business, how many of you would feel secure passing sensitive information to your branches around the world or around the nation? If you were an ordinary citizen, would you feel secure knowing that many of your records and files are subject to the kind of security that the cyber-criminals of today just laugh at? Yet that's the problem we face today, and my colleagues here today and I find it unacceptable. Just three months ago we passed a historic telecommunications law that is designed to make it easier to interact with each other. But that law that vehicle which will take us along the information highway is useless without the engine of information security driving it forward. Mr. President, our bill would allow the unrestricted export of mass-market or public-domain encryption programs. It would also require the Secretary of Commerce to allow the export of encryption technologies if products of similar strength are available elsewhere in the world. Finally, it would prohibit the government from imposing a mandatory key-escrow system in which the government or another third party would have a "back door" to your computer files. I come from a state where distances can often keep us apart. From Eureka, Montana, in the northwest to Alzada, Montana, in the southeast is the same distance as from Washington, D.C., to Chicago. Anything to bring us closer together will give us benefits only enjoyed now by folks in larger areas. It will also give the mom-and-pop businesses in our smallest communities a leg up on their bigger competitors as we enter the information age. But my concern is also based on the effect the current policy is having on jobs and industry in this nation. Because of our current ill-advised policy, American companies will lose their share of the world market which now stands at 75 percent to foreign companies who don't have to abide by such restrictions. For example, I have discovered a World Wide Web page from a South African company that boasts 128-bit encryption. In many cases, these encryption programs are available to download from the Internet. Mr. President, American companies clearly are at a competitive disadvantage. A study by the Computer Systems Policy Project found that within just the next four years, American companies could lose $60 billion in revenues and American workers could lose 216,000 high-tech jobs. Our bill is a jobs bill that I'm sure the administration can agree with. But it's not only that. As you can see, it's also a consumers bill. One of the questions I have heard is, "How does this legislation differ from a bill you are also sponsoring with Senator Leahy?" The answer is, not a lot. However, Pro-CODE is narrower in its scope. It deals exclusively with the issue of commerce and omits the criminality provisions. In addition, it does not set up guidelines for a voluntary key-escrow arrangement. This is a streamlined measure that I hope to move quickly through the Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation and the Science, Technology and Space subcommittee, which I chair. We will have hearings on this bill, hopefully as soon as this month, and I hope to have at least one of those in the field where the people are affected most by this bill. In addition to the diverse and bipartisan group of senators you see before you, support for this legislation in the private sector is both broad and deep. There are two homepages on the Web that are dedicated to tracking encryption legislation and making people aware of why it is needed. As with the "blue-ribbon campaign," Internet users will be encouraged to download the golden key and envelope symbol. They will then be able to link to one of the two encryption pages and show their support for this effort. I am also sending today an open letter to the Internet community encouraging support for this bill, and I expect it to be made available to hundreds of thousands of Internet users. I will also make myself available for at least two online forums to discuss my bill with computer users. Mr. President, I urge support for this bill, and I yield the floor.
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