John Kerry and John Ashcroft have long been at odds with one another. But the devil is in the details:
In 1997 Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John McCain pushed the Secure Public Networks Act through his committee. This bill would have codified the administration’s export ban and started a key escrow system. One of his original co-sponsors was his fellow Vietnam vet and good friend from across the aisle, John Kerry.
Proponents such as McCain and Kerry claimed that law enforcement could not get the key from any third-party agency without a court order. Critics responded that there were loopholes in the law, that it opened the door to abuses, and that it punished a technology rather than wrongdoers who used that technology. Some opponents argued that the idea was equivalent to giving the government an electronic key to everyone’s home. “To date, we have heard a great deal about the needs of law enforcement and not enough about the privacy needs of the rest of us,” said then-Sen. Ashcroft in a 1997 speech to the Computer and Communications Industry Association. “While we need to revise our laws to reflect the digital age, one thing that does not need revision is the Fourth Amendment… Now, more than ever, we must protect citizens’ privacy from the excesses of an arrogant, overly powerful government.”
According to Reason’s John Berlau, Kerry has also been in favor of broader asset-forfeiture powers, government-mandated bank-account snooping, and federal monitoring of “all electronic money transfers.”
So read the whole thing — it’s required.