INTERNET INFORMATION POSTING (Senate - February 24, 1999)

[Page: S1911]

Mr. LOTT. Mr. President, currently the House Commerce Committee is examining whether legislation is necessary to minimize the threat that a national, searchable electronic database of thousands of industrial `worst-case accident scenarios' will be posted on the Internet, available for searching from anywhere in the world. This information would be, as House Commerce Committee Chairman Bliley put it, a blueprint for destruction. The FBI and other public safety agencies believe that allowing this information to be posted in a national electronic database would pave the way for terrorists seeking to attack buildings in American cities.

EPA has agreed not to post this data on the Internet and that private parties should not post the data, either. The issue is not whether this information is public: it is, and the FBI has suggested way to provide Americans with the information while minimizing the terrorist threat. The issue is selecting an information distribution system that does not create a targeting tool that terrorists can use to disastrous and tragic ends. However, environmental groups have threatened to use the Freedom of Information Act to obtain the publicize the national database. Congress may have to act swiftly in order to address this issue before EPA receives the worst-case scenarios by the June 21 filing date.

Mr. President, this is not a environmental or right-to-know issue. This is an issue of national safety, and we must treat it as just that. Congress cannot be responsible for facilitating terrorist attacks on American cities. The safety of the American people should always be Congress' top priority.