February 15, 2000


11:57 A.M. EST

                              THE WHITE HOUSE

                       Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release                       February 15, 2000

                         REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
                           OF HIGH-TECH INDUSTRY

                                     The Cabinet Room

11:57 A.M. EST

          THE PRESIDENT:  The room is smaller than it looks on television.
(Laughter.)  Usually I don't get so many of them coming in, except you guys
are -- (laughter.)

          Well, first of all, I want to welcome the leaders of the
high-tech industry and experts on computer security to this meeting at the
White House to talk about how to maximize the promise and minimize the
risks to the Internet.

          The disruptions at several websites last week highlight how
important the Internet has become to our whole way of life in America, and
how vulnerabilities at one place on the Net can create risks for all.  Our
administration has been working for years now to reduce vulnerabilities in
government computers and to encourage the private sector to do more.

          We know that we have to keep cyberspace open and free.  We have
to make, at the same time, computer networks more secure and resilient, and
we have to do more to protect privacy and civil liberties.  And we're here
to work together.

          Last month I released a draft plan to help do our part to meet
these challenges.  And in the budget I asked Congress for $2 billion for
cyber security, to safeguard government networks, to detect attacks, to
hire and train more security experts, to increase cooperation with the
private sector.  I want to jump-start this effort by providing $9 million
right away to begin some of these key initiatives.  And so we'll do what we

          I understand that many leading industry members, including the
companies represented here today, have agreed to create a mechanism to
share cyber security information, and I applaud that.  I am asking
Secretary Daley and my Science Advisor, Dr. Neal Lane, and Richard Clarke
from the White House, to work with these companies to accelerate our
efforts with the private sector.

          Now, having said that, and before we open the floor for
questions, I'd like to ask Peter Solvik, who is to my right, the senior
Vice President and chief information officer of CISCO Systems, to say a few
words on behalf of the private sector people who are here today.


          MR. SOLVIK:  Thank you, Mr. President.  It is an honor for me to
be here to discuss this important issue.  First, I want to thank you and
your team for working cooperatively with industry to pursue and implement
policies that have permitted the astounding growth of the Internet and

          Today, Internet, e-commerce, and information technology represent
over one-third of the economic growth in the United States.  And certainly
we're enjoying an unprecedented time of economic growth, expansion and
success in the United States.  Furthermore, it's estimated that electronic
commerce could reach $1.5 trillion by the year 2003.  That's why it's more
important than ever that we provide a strong and secure foundation for the
digital economy.

          We're certainly not facing a crisis, but the events of last week
show that everyone -- Internet users, Internet companies, and government --
need to work together to strengthen Internet security.  I know that you've
challenged industry to do our part, and I'm pleased to say that the
companies represented here today have joined more than 30 major Internet
and information technology companies, as well as 10 industry trade
associations, and we've pledged to work together on this issue.

          We're committed to increasing the security of the Internet by
sharing information on cyber attacks, vulnerabilities, countermeasures, and
best practices as a concrete way of improving security of the Internet.  We
look to government to play an important role by coordinating this activity,
ensuring its own systems are secure, and continuing to support important
R&D efforts.

          Again, I want to thank you for your leadership on this important
issue.  We're very committed to work together so that the Internet
continues to grow and reach its full potential in the 21st century.

          THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.

          Q    Mr. President, is there such a thing as a plan to actually
secure the Internet?

          THE PRESIDENT:  Secretary Daley says there is.  (Laughter.)  Let
me say, what we're going to try to do today is to talk about what the
government's responsibility is for our own systems and networks; what the
private sector's responsibility is; and as I said before, how to talk about
having adequate security, how to protect privacy and civil liberties, but
also how to keep the Internet open.

          And keep in mind, one of the reasons this thing has worked so
well is that it has been free of government regulation.  The only
contribution the government made to the Internet was the early research
over 30 years ago, now, I guess, is when it started -- '69.  And there may
be more work for us to do in research here.  But I think that, insofar as
we can, we ought to stay with what brought us here.

          The companies and the sector they represent in this room are
about 8 percent of our employment; they do represent, as Peter said, over
30 percent of our growth.  And so the trick is going to be how to do what
needs to be done on security and privacy, and still keep it flourishing and

          But we ought to approach this with determination and we shouldn't
be surprised that these things have happened.  It's just a replay of what
has always happened whenever there's a new way of communicating, a new way
of making money throughout human society -- there's always going to be
somebody that tries to take advantage of it.  And we'll figure out how to
deal with it and go on.

          Q    Mr. President, one issue involved here is the sharing of
information, and there are some reports this morning that banks were
conscious of efforts to disable their systems, but did not share that
information more broadly.  Can the government solve that without forcing
industry or business to disclose information it would rather keep private?

          THE PRESIDENT:  I think -- let me tell you what I know about
that, and there may be something I don't know, so I will offer that caution
at the outset.  The Justice Department, the FBI had certain information
that they made broadly available, and I think the banks were in better
shape to take advantage  of that information than others were.  And I think
one of the purposes of this meeting is to figure what do we do from here
forward to make sure that everybody is in the same position.

          But I don't think that, based on what I know now, we should be
out there finger-pointing at any sector of the economy and what they didn't
do.  I think that they were just better organized to engage in information
sharing and to set up the defenses necessary to guard against this.  And
what we really want is for every sector of our economy to be in the same

          Q    Mr. President, oil prices have now risen above $30 a barrel.
Does that increase a need to do -- is there anything you can do about that?
Or are you more sympathetic to arguments toward releasing the Strategic
Petroleum Reserve?

          THE PRESIDENT:  I think we have to watch this the next few days.
There are going to be some important meetings with the oil producing
countries in the next few days and we will know more about this in a week
or 10 days about what the trends are going to be.

          But the American people are handling the price increase pretty
well in terms of every aspect of our lives because of increased energy
efficiency, except for home heating oil, where you have, in the
Mid-Atlantic states and New England, unfortunately, so many people still
dependent upon a source of heating which the rest of the country left long
ago, and they are unbelievably burdened by this.

          Now, we've released $200 million in LIHEAP funds so far; we can
release more.  But that eases the burden on the poorest of our citizens,
but there are a lot of working people on modest incomes that are just
getting killed by this because of their reliance on home heating oil.  And
I have not closed off any options.  I'm monitoring this on a daily basis.
It's a deeply troubling thing.

          But I think the rest of our country should know -- I mean, a lot
of people are feeling the pinch, maybe if they drive long distances,
because the price of gasoline has gone up.  But there is a group of
Americans, middle class and lower-middle-income Americans, who have limited
disposable incomes, who have no option to heat their homes but home heating
oil.  They're the people that are really getting hurt.  And I hope -- and,
obviously, the poor would be devastated by it, but we're monitoring that
daily to make sure we've released enough of the federal funds that we have
that go directly to benefit them.

          And so this is a daily watch, and we'll just have to see where we
are.  And I may have more to say as the days go by.  But we should know
more in a week about what the trend lines are going to be and what's going
to happen to the price of oil over the next few month.

          Q    Mr. President, did the White House deny congressional
committees access to e-mails it subpoenaed?

          THE PRESIDENT:  I believe that we have complied with every
request -- and there have been thousands.  If the American people knew how
much of their money we had to spend complying with requests for paper and
e-mails, they might be quite amazed.  But we certainly have done our best
to do that.  There has never been an intentional effort to do that, and I
think that we are in full compliance.  I believe we are.

          That's what Mr. Podesta told me right before we came out.

          Q    Would you entertain one last question, sir?  We've always
heard for the last four or five years that it was going to take an
electronic Pearl Harbor -- many of the people around this table I've
interviewed over the last four or five years and they've agreed that's the
kind of impact we would need for everybody to play together and work
together.  Is that what happened last week?

          THE PRESIDENT:  Well, I hope not.  (Laughter.)  I think it was an
alarm.  I don't think it was Pearl Harbor.  We lost our Pacific fleet at
Pearl Harbor -- I don't think the analogous loss was that great.  But I
think it --

          Q    Was it of concern --

          THE PRESIDENT:  Look, it's a source of concern, but I don't think
we should leave here with this vast sense of insecurity.  We ought to leave
here with a sense of confidence that this is a challenge that was entirely
predictable; it's part of the price of the success of the Internet; and
we're all determined to work together to meet it.  And so, yes, we got an
alarm, but I wouldn't say -- I wouldn't analogize it to Pearl Harbor.

          We're all here; we're going to figure out what to do.  But you
need to let us work now.  Thank you very much.

                              END               12:07 P.M. EST