Senator Ashcroft during debate on encryption - Nov 1997

[Congressional Record: November 7, 1997 (Senate)]
[Page S11959]

  Mr. ASHCROFT. Mr. President, I wanted to take a moment to
associate myself with the comments of the majority leader from
October 21, 1997. (Link) Senator Lott has correctly highlighted the
FBI's constantly shifting arguments and the Bureau's seemingly
relentless attempts to grab more power at the expense of the
Constitution, particularly the fourth amendment's protection
of privacy and the fifth amendment's guarantee of due process.

  The FBI legislative proposal goes far beyond the Commerce
Committee's misguided encryption legislation in further
disregarding our Constitution. Instead of working with those who
understand that S.909 gives the FBI unprecedented and troubling
authority to invade lives, the FBI has attempted to grab even
broader authority.
The Senate would be foolish to pass S.909.
In no way can we even consider the ill-advised FBI approach.
The reach of the FBI has now extended so far that the President
has taken the other side of the issue and supported a free
market approach, according to his public comments delivered

  I can only conclude that the FBI has introduced its proposal
as a ploy to make S.909 look like a reasonable compromise. The
only other explanation for the FBI's proposal is that the Bureau
will not be satisfied with S.909, but instead will continue to
work to erode our Constitutional protections. In fact, the new
proposal only draws attention to the many problems of the
Commerce Committee language. Neither proposal is acceptable.

  The issue of encryption must be revisited in a real and serious
way next year, both at the committee level and in the Senate
chamber, to examine the many Constitutional implications of the
various proposals. I look forward to working with the Majority
Leader and other Senators who have expressed interest in
encryption legislation.

  I yield the floor.


See Senator Lott's comments on encryption: