CCIA Reacts to Presidential Initiative Aimed at Protecting Critical Infrastructures

BY CCIA Staff
May 22, 1998

(WASHINGTON, DC) — After reviewing reports of President Clinton’s speech to Naval Academy graduates today and of his directive designed to protect the Nation’s electronic infrastructure from attacks, an executive of the Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA) urged his fellow industry executives to hold on to their wallets and to prepare for government interference in their businesses.

Calling for a national effort to secure the infrastructure, Clinton ordered federal action to assess risks and reduce exposure to attacks. The order also stressed cooperation between government and the private sector by linking specific agencies with private sector representatives.

“As most of the Nation’s ‘electronic infrastructure’ is owned and operated by the private sector, what this order says to me,” said CCIA Executive Vice President Glenn Davidson, is: ‘We’re from the Government and we’re here to help you.’ So, to my colleagues in industry, I say: ‘Prepare yourselves for a visit from your friendly FBI agent, for demands to share company proprietary information with government agents, and for shelling out whatever it may take to strengthen the security of your networks to intelligence community specifications. Such government interference can only increase costs and in itself ultimately opens our electronic infrastructure to attacks.”

Davidson repeated concerns about:

    • The way the Presidential Commission on Critical Infrastructure Protection had arrived at its recommendations;

         

          • The absence of a formal opportunity for industry to comment on those recommendations before they were translated into a presidential decision directive; and

               

                • The decision to ‘house’ the effort at the Justice Department and the FBI rather than a quasi- government/quasi-private sector organization that allows for more industry involvement in the development and implementation of critical infrastructure protection policy and practices.

                Mr. Davidson offered congressional testimony last year related to the report issued by the President’s Commission on Critical Infrastructure Protection and is available to discuss CCIA’s views on the matter.

                CCIA is an association of computer and communications industry firms, representing a broad cross-section of the industry. CCIA is dedicated to preserving full, free and open competition throughout our industry. Our members employ over a half million workers and generate annual revenues in excess of 200 billion dollars.

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