10 July 1997
Source: Mail list cypherpunks@toad.com

To: cypherpunks@toad.com
Date: Wed, 9 Jul 1997 23:06:56 -0400
From: Declan McCullagh <declan@well.com>
Subject: Cast of Characters for Crypto Politics (Judiciary Hearing)

The Senate Judiciary committee today heard testimony on
key escrow, particularly the "Secure Public Networks
Act" (S. 909) introduced last month. The Senate
Commerce committee on June 19 approved the bill,
backed by Sen. Bob Kerrey and Sen. John McCain, which
would create a national key escrow infrastructure.
Pro-encryption legislation is dead in the Senate;
McCain-Kerrey has taken its place.

Here's a cast of characters from today's hearing...

SEN. ORRIN HATCH (R): Asked what PGP stood for. Hatch,
who chaired the hearing, said "one would expect the
executive branch to lead" on such an important issue
but "the Clinton administration has been all over the
map." Said it's time for Congress to seize the debate,
that it's already "acting as a broker for these
competing interests" and the Senate Judiciary
committee in particular "must serve as a forum for
open debate in this area."

SEN. PATRICK LEAHY (D): The Senate's supposed defender
of crypto-freedom was at best a milquetoast one today.
During his opening remarks, he refrained from
criticizing bills to encourage key recovery; in fact,
he argued that *he's* been pushing key recovery bills
far longer than anyone else. ("There has been _one_
key recovery bill pending in the Senate in the last
Congress and for most of this one. That is the ECPA,
which I introduced...") Spoke against the
McCain-Kerrey bill not on broad, philosophical grounds
but on narrower grounds such as awarding too much
discretionary power to the Commerce Secretary.

SEN. CHARLES GRASSLEY (R): Tried to paint himself as
someone who understands the dangers of government
power by noting he joined many Republicans in opposing
roving wiretaps last summer, but then spoke darkly of
pedophiles armed with crypto. "Encryption is hindering
the investigation of chid sex offenders," Grassley
warned. He told how Colorado police couldn't break
into a teen's password-protected electronic organizer
where incriminating information might be stored. His
continuing fixation on child molesters shone through
today, as it did two years ago at a hearing for his
Net-censorship bill. He concluded: "How many child
molesters should go free because of encryption?"

SEN. BOB KERREY (D): Perhaps gaining confidence in his
political backing, Sen. Bob Kerrey spoke at length
about the dangers of uncontrolled *domestic* use of
crypto. "The current law is unacceptable. The status
quo is unacceptable," he said. At one point he talked
about scrapping any legislative changes to export
rules -- and focusing instead just on domestic crypto
and domestic key escrow.

SEN. JOHN KYL (R): Criticized Kerrey for being too
moderate. "My own view is that the legislation does
not go far enough," Sen. Kyl said of the McCain-Kerrey
bill. He said he was concerned about *any* changes to
export controls and wanted to keep the status quo. "I
don't want to be sitting up here and to have law
enforcement officials say to us you had the
opportunity to protect American lives and you didn't
do it," Kyl said. Tossed easy lobs to FBI Director
Freeh, who batted them out of the park.

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D): Said "I would echo Sen.
Kyl's concerns." Noted she represented a high-tech
state but still was concerned about the uncontrolled
spread of encryption. Said to Freeh: "You've made a
clear and compelling case for key recovery. If it was
understood by the American people, they'd be
supportive." Followed up on Grassley's point about the
passworded organizer by asking Kerrey, "Without
revealing the classified briefing you participated in
and we have recently, what's puzzling me is that the
Colorado law enforcement doesn't have any recourse to
be able to break into a system." She said she thought
that the FBI could tunnel into such a device, but FBI
director Louis Freeh shook his head no.

SEN. JOHN ASHCROFT (R): Emerged as a staunch
crypto-defender. Asked Freeh why, if 56-bit crypto was
good enough for the general public, did the
administration allow banks to export 128-bit crypto?
Told Freeh, "Your presumption is that law breakers
will use key recovery systmes that are voluntary."
Argued that "there's no need for us to pass
legislation [on key recovery]... this is something to
which the market is responding." Wondered why the Cali
Cartel would use crypto with backdoors for the Feds.
Dismissed arguments about other countries' crypto
restrictions by saying: "So we have a whole bunch of
other comuntries without the commitment to civil
liberties we have." Controlling crypto is tricky
because "we're in a universe that's dynamic," he said.
"It seems to me that with our marketplace using
128-bit, we ought to be very careful about saying we
can consume it, we can use it, but we can't export
it." Landed a solid blow when he questioned how the
"crypto-in-a-crime" provision would work if someone
encrypts their tax data and is found guilty of a crime
later. "Is he guilty of a second crime because he
sought to protect the integrity of his tax returns
with encryption?"

More info:







Declan McCullagh
Time Inc.
The Netly News Network
Washington Correspondent