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security tips the scale
By Senator John Ashcroft

Republican, Missouri
Chairman of the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Consumer Affairs, Foreign Commerce and Tourism

[Senator Ashcroft takes issue with administration views on the Internet
and the use of encryption technology.]

The Clinton administration would like the Federal government to have the capability to read any international or domestic computer communications. The FBI wants access to decode, digest, and discuss financial transactions, personal e-mail, and proprietary information sent abroad -- all in the name of national security. To accomplish this, President Clinton would like government agencies to have the keys for decoding all exported U.S. software and Internet communications.

This proposed policy raises obvious concerns about Americans' privacy, in addition to tampering with the competitive advantage that our U.S. software companies currently enjoy in the field of encryption technology. Not only would Big Brother be looming over the shoulders of international cyber-surfers, but the administration threatens to render our state-of-the-art computer software engineers obsolete and unemployed.

There is a concern that the Internet could be used to commit crimes and that advanced encryption could disguise such activity. However, we do not provide the government with phone jacks outside our homes for unlimited wiretaps. Why, then, should we grant government the Orwellian capability to listen at will and in real time to our communications across the Web?

The protections of the Fourth Amendment are clear. The right to protection from unlawful searches is an indivisible American value. Two hundred years of court decisions have stood in defense of this fundamental right. The state's interest in effective crime-fighting should never vitiate the citizens' Bill of Rights.

-John Ashcroft

homepage: homepage: http://usinfo.state.gov/journals/itgic/1097/ijge/gj-7.htm

Timing is everything 09.Dec.2002 01:40


Thanks for the post. However, you forgot to mention that Ashcroft wrote this while he was a US Senator, before he lost the 2000 election to a dead man, Mel Carnahan, and before he was resurrected by Herr Bush to ruin all of our lives as head of the 'Justice' Department.

Apparently Ashcroft was either lying about his stance on the issue of privacy on the Internet or he changed his mind about this most important of global and American issues.

Which leads me to a recent article from the Independent (UK) newspaper.

While the federal government closes the door on freedom in our own country, the CIA and other 'intelligence' groups are having trouble tracking real terrorists using the same tools that they will use to destroy our privacy and democracy.

Many users of the Internet and other ubiquitous high technology such as cell phones are blissfully unaware of the stunning level of surveillance that we are under NOW.

According to this article, Al Qaeda has already quit using the same tools that we take for granted. I suppose if you find enough of your comrades being blown up by precision bombs during or shortly after making cell phone calls, you quickly learn not to use that technology.

That will quickly leave only the legitimate users of this technology to be tracked by agents of the War on Terror™


great article 09.Dec.2002 15:47

Mr B.

Great article...bad timing. Did anyone bother reading it before they posted it? Have they just awakened from a two year coma?

i know the date 09.Dec.2002 22:37

john ashcroft

sure, its a few years late. but i didnt know if everyone remembered.