The online magazine Liberation Multimedia reports  that the
French economy and finance minister, Domenica Strauss-Khan, has
announced the French government's intention to liberalize that
nation's heavy strictures on the use of encryption by its citizens.
(English speakers can feed this URL to the Babelfish .) France
is one of only a handful of nations that forbids its citizens to
use any encryption technology that the government cannot decode.
France is many years behind the rest of Europe in its embrace of
the Internet, having invested heavily in the 1980s in the now-
obsolete Minitel technology. Allowing its citizens to use crypto-
graphy to protect credit-card transactions is the rock-bottom
first step that the nation needs to take in order to participate
in the era of electronic commerce.
Thanks for the heads-up to ted byfield <tbyfield at panix dot com>,
who comments, "Very surprising. But it would be quite nice to see
the US isolated even further, especially so soon after its pro-
fessed victory at Wassanaar ." I could hardly agree more.