WCIT: Ageing IT systems help terrorism flourish

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WCIT: Ageing IT systems help terrorism flourish

Former US president, Bill Clinton has criticised law enforcement agencies battling against terrorism for struggling with a 30-year-old computer system.

Speaking at the World Congress on Information Technology (WCIT 2002), Clinton said that the US law enforcement computer system was not connected to other agencies and that the ramifications of poor government IT procedures really hit home after the attacks of 11 September.

"The required infrastructure wasn't in place, which is why terrorists living in the US were not identified; warnings about unusual behaviour from flight schools were written down at the FBI central office but not logged on to a computer and there was no cross checking," Clinton said.

As a result of that failure, Clinton said, the US government is now seriously committed to updating its IT and using modern technology as a means of fighting terrorism.

During his term as US President, Clinton said the FBI was still able to thwart a terrorist attack at the Los Angeles airport, bombings during the 2000 New Year celebrations and planned attacks on four flights to the Philippines despite the 30-year-old system.

The theme of Clinton's keynote address to the 1,800 delegates attending the WCIT was "more partners, fewer terrorists", and how IT is central to world economic growth, which if used effectively can bridge the digital divide between rich and poor nations.

IT has bought global interdependence to the fore, Clinton said, but integration is required to ensure these divisions do not become greater.

He said countries with a high rate of Internet connection need to use modern technology to reach out to poorer nations and ensure these countries do not become enclaves for terrorists.

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