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E-M:/ EPA web sites closed--Congressional DENIAL OF SERVICE

Enviro-Mich message from anne.woiwode@sfsierra.sierraclub.org

     Enviro-Mich folks-- I have pulled up the EPA website and they are in 
     fact "not available at this time so I pass along an alert regarding 
     apparent shut down of internet access to EPA websites as a result of 
     concerns over security.  While security is a legitimate concern, the 
     possibility that a permanent shut down of access could be afoot is 
     very troubling.
     Anne Woiwode
FYI -- Protest to your members of congress would be most appropriate.
Under pressure from House Commerce Committee Chairman Thomas J. Bliley 
(R-Virginia), U.S. EPA has severed its electronic links to the outside 
world. EPA's web sites are down. E-mail in and out of the agency does 
not work. It is not yet clear how long this will last.
According to the Associated Press, "Bliley said that investigators from 
the General Accounting Office in December were able to penetrate 
sensitive areas of the EPA computer system through the agency's public 
Web site and gain access to sensitive material not generally available 
to the public."
Eric Wohlschlegel, a spokesman for Bliley, said "This is a matter of 
protecting sensitive and confidential data that could put national and 
economic security at risk. EPA's assertion that this sensitive data is 
now secure behind a firewall is absolutely false."
In fact, it's the electronic isolation of U.S. EPA that endangers U.S. 
security. Daily, large numbers of Americans rely upon access to EPA's 
web site for environmental data, contact information, and policy 
documents. A large share of EPA's routine business with the public, 
private industry, and other agencies is conducted via e-mail. That 
activity - admittedly imperfect - protects the American people and our 
environment from environmental insult and disaster.
Bliley's action - and EPA's inability to resist politically - are 
comparable, but more pervasive, to the recent, widely publicized attacks 
on leading electronic commerce web systems. If agencies that could be 
victimized by cracker attacks were all forced to shut down public 
information and correspondence systems until they could prove 
invulnerability, then it would probably shut down the day-to-day 
activities of the government. My guess is that crackers, if they wished, 
could illegally read Congressman Bliley's personal electronic 
correspondence, but that's no reason to shut down Congress's Internet 
That's a reason to build security into standard operating systems, and 
for EPA to work quickly to protect its confidential data.
Unless people who care about environmental protection protest 
immediately and loudly, Bliley will continue his attacks on EPA.
Lenny Siegel
Director, Center for Public Environmental Oversight 
c/o PSC, 222B View St., Mountain View, CA 94041 
Voice: 650/961-8918 or 650/969-1545
Fax: 650/968-1126

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