Cooperation with Russia in Information Technology
Ms. Esther Dyson
Chairman, EDventure Holdings
I will focus on two areas. The first one is what is actually needed for cooperation in Information Technology. In this respect, I would like to mention a project that I am working on in the United States. I am involved with a task force funded by the Markle Foundation that is looking at homeland security in the United States. Our biggest challenge is getting the FBI and the CIA to work together, along with local law enforcement and other parties. It is a huge challenge, even though in theory everyone shares the same language, the same culture, and, in the end, reports to the same people. But the difficulties of establishing cooperation across organizational boundaries are enormous. Even with the use of modern technology such as database mining, the Internet, or email, these difficulties do not disappear.
In the end, it all depends on trust as well as on technology. The challenge is not so much getting the software to work together, or agreeing on technical protocols or standardization, although that is all very important. In the end, it is the challenge of sharing data. The FBI does not care that much about which software it uses but it does care about sharing its data. What we need to understand, therefore, as U.S.-Russia collaboration moves forward, is how careful we will have to be with our data and at the same time how comfortable we will have to be with sharing it. There are technical ways to match data without revealing it to the other side, using encryption and other tools, and we will need to deal with these ways. I want to make it clear that, even within the United States, these are big issues. These issues are even tougher to deal with when international cooperation is involved.
I would also like to mention a country with which to cooperate, which is Russia. There, I would like to emphasize how developed Russia is and how developed Russian information technology is.