MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif., Oct. 5, 1998 — Microsoft Corp.’s WebTV Networks today announced it is the first U.S. company to obtain government approval to export nonkey recovery-based 128-bit-strength encryption for general commercial use. WebTV Networks pioneered low-cost access to the Internet, e-mail, financial services and electronic shopping through a television set and a standard phone line.
Network service, combined with the WebTV-based Internet terminals and receivers, is the first communications system permitted by the U.S. government to provide strong encryption for general use by non-U.S. citizens in Japan and the United Kingdom. Such strong encryption allows Japanese and United Kingdom subscribers of WebTV to communicate through the WebTV Network (both within national borders and internationally) without fear of interception by unauthorized parties.
“We are elated that we can now offer our overseas subscribers the same secure communications that we have always offered our U.S. and Canadian subscribers and partners,”
said Steve Perlman, president of WebTV Networks.
“And it is truly in the spirit of the Internet that average consumers, rather than technologists or commercial interests, are the first to benefit from this powerful technology. This is a welcome step in liberalizing export controls on encryption. We are looking forward to even more progress.”
Previously, U.S. laws allowed exported products to use known-to-be-breakable 56-bit encryption keys while restricting strong (not known to be breakable) 128-bit keys to limited sets of users and applications. Recently, the U.S. government announced that it would broaden the base of users and applications permitted to use strong encryption. But general applications, even the transmission of simple e-mail messages, are still restricted from using strong encryption.
WebTV Networks has been granted the first export license to use strong 128-bit encryption for any user and any application in Japan and the United Kingdom. So, for example, an e-mail message with personal information sent from a WebTV subscriber in Japan to a second WebTV subscriber in Japan will be sent securely because there is no known technology by which an unauthorized party could intercept and decipher it.
Therefore, as part of the WebTV Network, the WebTV-based Internet terminal (starting at under $100) is now the most secure communications device available from a U.S. company.
“WebTV Networks’ export approval is a significant step for industry and reflects the U.S. government’s commitment to promoting e-commerce abroad,”
said William Reinsch, U.S. undersecretary for export administration.
“The WebTV Network provides secure communications for its customers and partners without posing undue risks to national security and law enforcement.”
The WebTV Plus system, which includes the WebTV-based Internet receiver and the WebTV Network service, seamlessly integrates television programming with Internet content and services, giving customers more choice and control over the shows they watch as well as new ways to enjoy more entertainment, information and services through Internet and special interactive programming. The WebTV Network Plus service has new features that allow users to customize television watching in useful and fun ways, from advanced VCR programming to sound- and image-enriched e-mail messages. The WebTV Network is one of the largest online systems in the United States, with over 450,000 subscribers.
WebTV Networks, Inc. operates the WebTV Network service and designs WebTV-based Internet terminals and receivers available from companies like Sony, Philips and Mitsubishi at consumer electronics stores nationwide. Costs start at $99 for the Internet terminals and $199 for the Internet receivers, and $19.95 or $24.95 per month respectively for the WebTV Network service. WebTV Networks Inc., based in Mountain View, Calif., is a subsidiary of Microsoft Corp.
Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq
) is the worldwide leader in software for personal computers. The company offers a wide range of products and services for business and personal use, each designed with the mission of making it easier and more enjoyable for people to take advantage of the full power of personal computing every day.
Copyright 1998 WebTV Networks, Inc. All rights reserved.
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The subscription fee for the WebTV Network and the WebTV Plus Network service is a flat fee. WebTV Network service and the WebTV Plus Network service are not available as a local call everywhere. Toll charges may apply. To check if you have local access, please call (800) GO-WebTV. WebTV systems, like other Internet devices, do not support all data formats.
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