Date
22 January 2017
Critics say the restrictions don't go far enough to deter the sale of tools used to test electronic security. Photo: Reuters
Critics say the restrictions don't go far enough to deter the sale of tools used to test electronic security. Photo: Reuters

US likely to scale back limits on sale of intrusion software

United States commerce officials are considering scaling back planned restrictions on the export of electronic testing software.

This comes after draft regulations published in May drew complaints that these did not go far enough to deter the sale of tools used to test electronic security.

“All of those comments will be carefully reviewed and distilled and the authorities will determine how the regulations should be changed,” a spokesman for the Commerce Department was quoted as saying by Reuters.

“A second iteration of this regulation will be promulgated, and you can infer from that that the first one will be withdrawn.”

The step had been expected after an avalanche of objections from major technology companies as well as security specialists.

Some activists who applauded the idea of cracking down on the sale of tools to despotic regimes that spy on dissidents said the draft is clumsy.

Some version of regulation is called for under the latest iteration of the Wassenaar agreement among 41 countries, which limits the movement of “dual-use” technologies sought for both peaceful and military purposes.

The US plan had gone further than other countries, for example, in taking aim at tools for finding software flaws.

“We’re very encouraged,” said Joseph Lorenzo Hall, chief technologist at the nonprofit Center for Democracy & Technology. He said he expected the next set of rules to be more narrowly tailored and added that the trade group would keep pushing to deregulate cryptography software and protect security research.

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