Senator Christopher Dodd
Senate Special Committee on the Year 2000 Technology Problem
Opening Statement at the Joint Economic Committee
February 23, 2000
We've all come through the Y2K experience a bit wiser on the
role of technology in our economy-the fact that it is pervasive
and that it makes us all more connected and more inter-dependent.
One of the most important lessons we learned from Y2K was that
by working together, government and industry, nations and global
enterprises, we can solve the kinds of technology problems that
we will likely face in this new century.
Today's hearing is focused on the threat to the US economy posed
by insecure computer networks. Before we get to that, I'd like
to speak to the awesome potential of the Internet to make our
lives better. While we are speaking about the cybernetic or "cyber"
threat, we shouldn't lose sight of the fact that during the last
eight years, we have experienced an incredible sustained growth
in the economy, principally due to the rapidly expanding role
of technology in commerce.
We now have medical procedures being performed over the Internet,
bringing the expertise of doctors at major research hospitals
to the surgery rooms across the country and the globe. On the
Internet, people can buy and sell items in online auctions-a "virtual"
version of the county auction. We have online banking, shopping,
online music, online pharmacies, global discussion groups, and
online trading of stocks. We've had political campaigns on the
local, national, and global scale use the Internet to gather support
and funding and to discuss important issues. Even if you don't
personally participate on the Internet, it is remaking the global
economy in ways that we are only beginning to understand.
As we build this new economy, which Allen Greenspan (Chairman
of the Federal Reserve) has said defies current economic models,
we should pause along the way to ensure that it is a safe and
secure environment, and that it fits with what we want our society
to be about. Recently, I introduced legislation to protect peoples'
financial, medical, and genetic privacy. Among other things, the
legislation makes it illegal to fire people for what is in their
genes, whether that is a predisposition for cancer or the possibility
of heart-failure. President Clinton has endorsed this legislation,
and I am hopeful that we will get it before the Congress this
Today, we pause to listen to the experts-those who have helped
build the Internet, those that are involved in securing the Internet
from all threats, and those who are interested in making sure
that we take prudent and careful steps to protect the new economy.
I am anxious to hear their assessment of the looming cyber threat.
In addition, the CIA was asked to provide a statement for the
record today, which contains an assessment of the risk posed by
this new threat to our economic and national security. Trillions
of dollars in financial transactions and commerce move over the
internet, which has ill-defined and sporadic law enforcement;
billions of dollars worth of intellectual property are on networked
systems; and there is the potential to disrupt military effectiveness
and public safety via the internet while maintaining the elements
of surprise and anonymity. In short, a new global village without
a police force. However, we have a dilemma: we must make Internet
use secure, while recognizing that the chief strength of the Internet
continues to be its openness. This means that we should craft
our policies for a collaborative, Internet community-based solution.
One point that we expect to hear is that we need more research
and development in security technology and collaborative security
arrangements. While that occurs, we need to move forward on a
variety of public policy fronts, we need to address the shortcomings
in the protection of privacy, the ability to secure critical infrastructure,
and the creation of strong public-private partnerships. This is
the way forward, for all of us, in the new Internet economy.