Rep. Lofgren on McCain/Kerrey (good. long.)

David Downey digital_matrix at
Fri Jun 27 01:31:03 PDT 1997

>From: geeman at
>Date: Thu, 26 Jun 1997 23:33:27 -0700
>To: cypherpunks at
>Subject: Rep. Lofgren on McCain/Kerrey (good. long.)
>Check our new domain names!
>  Earlier this week, Mr. Dan Gillmore, columnist for the San Jose 
>Mercury News discussed the problems with S. 909 and strongly urged a 
>rejection of the McCain-Kerrey approach. I submit his column into the 
>Congressional Record.
>            [From the San Jose Mercury News, June 23, 1997]
>          Encryption Bill: Federal Exercise in Self-Deception
>                            (By Dan Gillmor)
>       As a bill bearing his name zipped last week through the 
>     Senate Commerce Committee he heads, Arizona Republican John 
>     McCain said, ``This bill carefully seeks to balance the 
>     concerns of law enforcement with individual privacy 
>     concerns.''
>       The legislation, co-sponsored by Nebraska Democrat Bob 
>     Kerrey and two other Democrats, was the latest futile attempt 
>     in Congress to achieve the impossible: compromise on an issue 
>     that fundamentally has no middle ground.
>       The issue is encryption, the scrambling of digital 
>     information. Try as they might, lawmakers must eventually 
>     understand the reality. When it comes to the privacy of 
>     personal information in the digital age, we have two simple 
>     choices. Either we allow people to encrypt their messages, 
>     using scrambling and unscrambling ``keys'' to which only they 
>     have access, or we do not.
>       Governments are certain that bad people will use encryption 
>     to help achieve bad ends. They're right. But their cure would 
>     shred our basic liberties.

Do ya really think the powers that be really care? Let's hope they do!

>       So the Clinton administration and its allies--the McCain-
>     Kerrey legislation is widely viewed as an administration-
>     approved plan--are pushing a policy that would force us to 
>     put descrambling keys in the hands of third parties. Then, 
>     when law enforcement people wanted to see our communications, 
>     they'd simply get the keys from that third party.
>       The McCain-Kerrey bill pretends to stop short of that. It 
>     would force government agencies to use only electronic 
>     hardware and software that included this key-recovery scheme. 
>     It would also require the same system for anyone using a 
>     network that is funded in any way by federal funds, including 
>     virtually all university networks.

Seems inherently dangerous to me, everything about you is on a system or 
systems somewhere, and most of them have used federal funds in their 
startup and continue to use them. Doesn't that grant the governments 
almost total access to your past present and future? I KNOW I don't want 
ANYONE having THAT much access to my life. What I don't understand is 
what makes them tjink we'll just roll over and accept this without a 

>       While one section calls the system ``voluntary'' for 
>     private individuals, the rest of the legislation would make 
>     it all but impossible to resist. Hardware and software 
>     companies, which so far have resisted the government's moves, 
>     will be much more likely to simply give in and build this 
>     key-recovery method into all of their products if they have 
>     to build it into ones bought by the government. Consumers 
>     need options, not monolithic products.

Seems to me that that is EXACTLY what the government wants. If they 
can't pass it legally, they figure they'll use economical pressure. 
Hell, they've been doing it to China, Vietnam, Russia and a host of 
others for years! Why shouldn't they apply the concept locally?

>       Another section of the bill would, in effect, require even 
>     private citizens to use such software--and therefore give 
>     their keys to the third parties--if they want to buy anything 
>     online. People tend to use what they have in front of them.

Isn't control of the economy too powerful of a tool for the government? 
Can anyone hear the whistling? It's the sound of the government sword 
slicing through our pocketbooks and into our liberties and rights.

>       There's nothing wrong with the idea of letting a third 
>     party hold onto a descrambling key in certain cases. As 
>     former White House official Jock Gill noted recently on an 
>     Internet mailing list, all government communications should 
>     use such a system so the public can keep an eye on what the 
>     government is doing in our name and with our money. We'll 
>     need to create a system, of course, where such oversight 
>     doesn't end up forcing the public to use exactly the same 
>     technology for its own encryption needs--or at least keep 
>     private keys out of the hands of centralized third parties.
>       Companies, meanwhile, will need to hold onto the business-
>     related keys of employees, so that vital records won't be 
>     lost when someone leaves or dies. But I can't think of many 
>     companies that will be happy about giving the vault keys to 
>     third parties they can't control.
>       Private citizens also should consider giving their keys to 
>     trusted third parties, just as they give their house keys to 
>     neighbors when on vacation trips. I intend to do just that--
>     but it's none of the government's business who gets my 
>     personal encryption key. I need strong encryption, as the 
>     digital age arrives, because more and more of my life will 
>     exist on these public networks.

Yeah, and how many of them does the government have pull with? Quite a 
few considering that they back most corporate companies with tax dollars 
and schools with federal grants.

>       The practical difficulties of setting up a centralized key-
>     recovery system are immense. Even if it could be done, I 
>     would never trust such a government-run system to be even 
>     remotely secure from corruption. I remember the Social 
>     Security employees who sold personal information to 
>     outsiders. I've also seen too much evidence that governments 
>     tend to abuse liberties when they have too much power--and 
>     the McCain-Kerrey bill would allow virtually anyone at any 
>     level of law enforcement to have access to private 
>     information on the flimsiest pretext, not even requiring a 
>     court order.

This is starting to sound like the beginnings of a Martial State. Slowly 
control the population in every aspect of their lives and when you have 
enough control, who's gonna fight you when you really start cracking the 
whip? If you control everything that affects their lives, NO ONE! 
Control their economy, their privacy, their children, and you control 
them. Even better, get them to help you in the names of their children, 
their rights, and make them feel like thy are in greatr danger that they 
actually are and they'll just hand you the reins!  Hmmmmmm... doesn't 
this sound like our current situation??

>     Kerrey's participation in this latest travesty is sad. He 
>     needs no lessons in courage. He lost part of a leg in 
>     Vietnam. Later, as he stood up to the know-nothings who would 
>     ban flag-burning, he noted that our strength comes partly 
>     from our ability to express ourselves even in ways that 
>     offend many others. Now, however, Kerrey is aligning himself    >     
with a much more dangerous crowd of know-nothings: those who'd > >    
ban our right to keep private information private. He may believe >    
this is about finding common ground; if so, someone has fed him 
>     falsehoods. His proposal, if enacted, would create the worst 
>     invasion of our fundamental liberty in many decades.

How many times have we watched the better part of valiant, couragous, 
and honorable men and women be seduced by power, greed, corruption, and 
just plain old not thinking straight?

>       If you care even slightly about your privacy in the future, 
>     pick up a pen today and write your Senators and member of the 
>     House of Representatives. Tell them to reject the Clinton-
>     McCain-Kerrey approach. Tell them you value your privacy and 
>     won't give it up without a fight. And remind them that you 
>     vote.

Yes, we vote. Yes, we care. Yes, WE WILL FIGHT!!!  

Though referenced by it's government, a country is defined 
by it's people. For it is not it's government that makes a 
country, but it's people. The government is just a place to 
put the useless. :-)   God does have a sense of humor.... 
He forgave our sins, and gave us government for penance! 

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