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Executives protest encryption limits

Top executives asked legislators to loosen export restrictions on encryption technology.

    Top executives from U.S. computer companies wrote members of Congress today, asking them to loosen export restrictions on encryption technology, according to a report in Bloomberg Business News.

    The executives say the restrictions put them at a competitive disadvantage because many foreign computer companies are not bound by similar restrictions, the report says. Current U.S. law restricts the export of codes intended to provide secure data transmission over computer networks.

    Executives from eight computer companies signed the letter, including Microsoft's Bill Gates, Oracle's Larry Ellison, and Novell's Robert Frankenberg, the report states. The executives pointed to three bills pending in Congress aimed at doing away with many of the current and proposed restrictions on encryption technology exports as possible solutions.

    The government has answered other challenges to its encryption restrictions with the argument that they prevent spies and terrorists from gettin access to the technology.

    The executives rejected a suggestion by the administration that those using the technology would have to provide an electronic key to be held by either the government or a third party for decoding purposes should it be required by law enforcement officials, according to the report.

    Last week, the administration received a request by 27 bipartisan members of the House to loosen export restrictions on encryption technology.

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