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Cyber Security Panel at VOA Discusses Online Freedom

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Washington, D.C., October 13, 2010 – U.S. national security officials and cyber security experts tackled the thorny issue of surveillance laws and online freedom Wednesday, during an interactive forum hosted by Voice of America and streamed live at:

VOA Executive Editor Steve Redisch says, "Online participants from China, Vietnam, Nigeria and the United States were able to question the panel about cyber security concerns, and showcase VOA's unique ability to facilitate debate in the rapidly evolving media environment."

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Richard McNally, an FBI counter-terrorism official, and Greg Nojeim, senior counsel at the Center for Democracy and Technology were among the panelists at the event. Also taking part, Martin Libicki - Senior Management Scientist at RAND, Amb. Philip Verveer – U.S. Coordinator for International Communications and Information Policy, Department of State, and Nancy Scola - Associate Editor,

McNally told the panel, "The Internet has become the most prevalent way by which people around the world interact with each other... At the same time, the Internet has become a tool for people who want to do harm to others."

Panelists noted that surveillance is proving more difficult because of encrypted communication. To remedy the situation the FBI and other security agencies want high-tech firms to include hidden "back doors" in their products that would allow for surveillance of user activities. But many experts are concerned about the implications of too much government involvement.

Greg Nojeim, senior counsel at the Center for Democracy and Technology, told the panel U.S. laws have been rendered inadequate and obsolete by technological advances. Nojeim cited mobile phones, which can now be tracked to find where a user is or has been. "What is the rule," Nojeim asked, "for getting cell phone location information? There isn’t one," he noted.

"Our intent with these panels is to make notable figures available to our audiences for a global conversation," Redisch said. "We hope that as we do more of these, our audience will continue those conversations with each other, and us, online."

VOA's Doug Bernard, who hosted the panel, is also the editor of the VOA Digital Frontiers webpage. Visit Digital Frontiers and other VOA programs at:

The Voice of America, which first went on the air in 1942, is a multimedia international broadcasting service funded by the U.S. government through the Broadcasting Board of Governors. VOA broadcasts approximately 1,500 hours of news, information, educational, and cultural programming every week to an estimated worldwide audience of more than 125 million people. Programs are produced in 44 languages and are intended exclusively for audiences outside of the United States.

For more information, please call VOA Public Relations at (202) 203-4959, or e-mail