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From:           	Theodor.Schlickmann@cec.eu.int
To:             	ukcrypto@chiark.greenend.org.uk
Date sent:      	Thu, 8 Mar 2001 11:01:07 +0100 
Send reply to:  	ukcrypto@chiark.greenend.org.uk

The EU Commission explained on Tuesday remarks by an employee which
fuelled fears that a U.S. intelligence agency had gained access to the
EU's security codes. The employee, Briton Desmond Perkins, told a
committee of the EU Parliament (Echelon Committee
<http://www.europarl.eu.int/committees/echelon_home.htm>) last month
that the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) had regularly but
unsuccessfully tried to crack the Commission's encryption system.
Perkins said he knew of the NSA interest because he had relatives
working in that organisation, raising suspicions that he might,
wittingly or not, have imparted information which could help U.S.
firms to beat European rivals for contracts. "The suggestion that U.S.
agencies control or have access to EU codes is complete rubbish, and
simply not true, though it may make exciting news headlines" Lodewijk
Briet, a senior Commission official, told the parliamentary committee.
"There is and has been no contact between the NSA and the European
Commission" said Briet, adding that Perkins was an "honest man" and no
spy. SECURITY NOT BREACHED Briet told the deputies Perkins had had one
relative working in the NSA who was now retired. He said Perkins'
claims of "good contacts" with the NSA did not mean security had been
breached. He said Perkins' statement that the NSA "regularly check our
systems" was based on an incident nearly 10 years ago when the system
manufacturer, German computer giant Siemens, had informed the
Commission of U.S interest. Briet added that the NSA tried to
intercept all foreign communications including those of the
Commission's missions around the world, but that this did not mean it
was able to decode them. The Commission's system conformed to NATO
standards and was similar to those used by some EU member states,
Briet said. But he added the EU would shortly approve tighter security
rules, partly in response to a much more competitive global
environment and also to mirror the EU's growing responsibilities in
the areas of foreign policy and defence. Some MEPs said Perkins, a
veteran employee of the Brussels-based executive Commission, should be
sacked for giving misleading information. 

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