As I suspect most noders use the internet frequently and/or are geeks, I think listening to where he stands on privacy might be a good idea before forming an opinion on Ashcroft.

(Note: These points came from a article posted on 1/5/2001, titled "Is John Ashcroft A Geek's Best Friend?" by Damien Cave.)

"The key issue is privacy -- one of the Net's most volatile hot buttons. Ashcroft 'was one of the guys that got it,' says Alan Davidson, who has worked with Ashcroft as staff counsel at the Center for Democracy and Technology, an online civil liberties nonprofit. 'He realized that it wasn't worth sacrificing the privacy of everyone online just to catch a few bad guys.'

"How exactly did a man like Ashcroft win praise from civil libertarians? By taking a surprisingly progressive point of view on the issue of encryption, say observers."

"Then, in 1997, he introduced the E-Privacy Act... Ashcroft's bill aimed to do more than just loosen the reins on encryption. It also made it harder for the FBI and other law enforcement agencies to spy on American citizens. Surveillance laws were amended under the bill, allowing cellphone carriers, for example, to keep customers' location information private unless a court order found that there was 'probable cause to believe that an individual using or possessing the subscriber equipment is committing, has committed, or is about to commit a felony offense.' ISPs were given similar protections."

However, I am un-nerved by the fact that he did vote for Child Online Protection Act and the Communications Decency Act; but maybe the privacy advocate part of him is more important because when push comes to shove the first amendment kills laws like COPA and the CDA anyway.