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Report by national IT security task force gets lukewarm response


Solution providers had mixed reactions to a report released last week by the Markle Foundation Task Force on National Security in the Information Age.

The task force,co-chaired by former Netscape CEO James Barksdale and composed of leading IT executives, academics and legal experts,was formed earlier this year to devise IT solutions that could boost national security. In its report, the group calls for a decentralized network for sharing information among local, state and federal agencies and the private sector.


Ex-Netscape CEO Barksdale c-chairs the task force, set up by the Markle Foundation.

"America will make a mistake if we create a centralized 'mainframe' information architecture focused on the nation's capital when the intelligence and other information critical to homeland security need to be shared and coordinated across the country and around the world," said Barksdale and co-chair Zoe Baird, president of the Markle Foundation, a nonprofit group that promotes the use of the Internet and other communication technologies in the public interest.

Besides the information network, the task force recommended that the new Department of Homeland Security, not the FBI, should lead the handling of domestic information to prevent terrorism.

Jim Kelton, president of SoftwareUnlimited, an Irvine, Calif.-based solution provider, agreed. "Some people could make a case either way, but I think the Department of Homeland Security is the better one to coordinate that," he said.

But Steve Crutchley, chief security officer at 4FrontSecurity, a Reston, Va.-based security consulting firm, said the task force's recommendations will have little impact.

"There is a place for a task force like this, but they are ineffective because they are not lobbying for the government to pass laws to hold people accountable for security in business and for service providers that provide security services," Crutchley said. "Government should set the example: The coming together of bureaus and the sharing of information between the FBI, CIA and whoever else will never happen unless it is mandated."