Tech Organizations Shift Convention Focus To Security

The United States Telecom Association and the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers are shifting their convention agendas in response to terrorism.

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The United States Telecom Association (USTA) and the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) are shifting their convention agendas in response to terrorism.

The USTA has rewritten the agenda for its annual convention next month in Scottsdale, Ariz., to focus on national security issues that affect telecommunications networks.

The association, which represents major telecommunications carriers and other players in the telecom industry, has recruited both former U.S. Secretary of Defense William Cohen and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich to speak on the terrorist crisis.

The convention is scheduled for Oct. 7 to 10, and is expected to draw telecommunications business executives from across the nation.

Walter McCormick Jr., president and CEO of the association, said in a statement Wednesday that the New York and Washington terrorist attacks are a "profound reminder of the importance of the U.S. telecommunications infrastructure to a strong, secure America."

"In the wake of [the] unprecedented terrorist attack on American soil, telecom companies responded with speed and heroism to restore service and to maintain the integrity and reliability of our networks." McCormick said. "As the nation prepares for war, we need to ensure that we can continue to keep this promise to America. So security and lessons learned on Sept. 11 will be a major focus of this years convention."

The Association is very active in lobbying telecommunications issues in Congress and before the Federal Communications Commission on behalf of the regional Bells.

Cohen will address the gathering on national and communications security on Monday, Oct. 8, following remarks by McCormick. Gingrich will speak on the current terrorist threat on Tuesday, Oct. 9.

The Association has also scheduled two educational seminars for the convention on infrastructure security. One will look at the communications issues from individuals who were involved in the aftermath of the attacks.

A second session will review "compliance requirements" with the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA) and will focus on government efforts to increase electronic surveillance.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers said Wednesday that it would go forward with its planned annual meeting in Marina del Rey, Ca., from Nov. 13-15. But it has also revised its agenda to focus on "pressing Internet stability and security issues."

"The events of September 11 have caused institutions worldwide to rethink their plans and priorities", said M. Stuart Lynn, ICANN president and CEO, in a statement.

"As an international institution, ICANN is not immune. In light of these new circumstances, it would be irresponsible for ICANN not to conduct an in-depth assessment of the robustness and security of the Internets naming and addressing systems," he said.

ICANN officials said they were still working out the details of the shift in agenda, but said security-related discussions will take place throughout the three-day event. The meeting is expected to draw participants from around the world, despite the lingering concerns about air travel safety.