US Commerce Dept OK's Export Of Software with Encryption

The Commerce Department has approved export of a software product that contains strong encryption, the first time the government has permitted export of a technology that it considers equivalent to military goods to be kept out of the hands of enemies and terrorists.

The software is Cybercash, which is designed for secure commerce over the Internet. The product allows shoppers to buy goods and services with credit cards or cash, with "complete assurance" that the transaction will not compromise their credit card or bank accounts. Cybercash Inc. of Reston, Va., has developed the product.

Magdalena Yesil, Vice President of the company, told Infohighway that the product uses standard industry encryption algorithms, such as those available from RSA, for the product.

Yesil said the approval by the Commerce Department, "is not a change of policy," because the encryption technology is used in only a small portion of the software, the piece of the message that includes credit card numbers. The rest of the message is uncoded.

Cybercash expects its technology to be used by vendors on the Internet, where security is a problem. Cybercash needed an export license so that its product could be used worldwide.

According to Yesil, Internet users from around the world will be able to download the Cybercash software from the company's World Wide Web site at http://www.cybercash.com.

In a related development, Cybercash has announced it is working with First of Omaha Merchant Processing, a division of First National Bank of Omaha, for secure payment services for merchants using the Internet. First of Omaha is the nation's second largest in-house bank processor.

Cybercash's simple, complete and secure product provides not only encryption, but necessary processing functionality as well," says Eric Turille, president of First of Omaha Merchant Processing. "Together, we can ensure safe payment transaction on the Internet and empower merchants to grow their businesses online more than ever before."

So far, Cybercash's software supports only credit card transactions. But Yesil told Infohighway that an electronic cash technology is coming that will "enable virtually any business person on the Internet to sell information, goods or services on-line."


(Press Contacts: Magdalena Yesil, Cybercash, 415-413-0110; Eric Turille, First of Omaha, 402-633-1801)