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Triangle Business Journal: Linux software's growth may shift U.S. trade plan

Nov 01, 1999, 17:11 (0 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Sougata Mukherjee)

"Last week, William Reinsch, undersecretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce, said the Clinton administration may soon reconsider its restriction on exporting source code for programs using strong encryption. That sounds like a lot of gobbledygook. But let me explain."

"American companies are now generally restricted from selling software that uses strong encryption to international vendors. The view generally has been that national security could be at risk if rogue nations and companies that trade products and services hide behind strongly encrypted software that no one can decipher...."

"Then comes Linux, an open-source operating system that can be accessed over the Internet, free of charge. Current export restrictions consider posting source code on the Internet as an export. That meant Linux vendors will not be able to build strong encryption features if they want the international community to download their programs."

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