Carnivore: Bill Addresses E-mail Surveillance

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Last Updated By Bill's Bible Basics :
February 16, 2017

By D. IAN HOPPER Associated Press Writer

August 3, 2000

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Attorney General Janet Reno said Thursday she will accelerate a promised review of the FBI's e-mail surveillance system and do everything she can to calm privacy advocates' worries about it.

In a weekly media briefing, Reno reiterated that she will have an independent panel of experts critique the inner workings of "Carnivore," the FBI's system.

"The thought would be that we would show the source code to these experts and then create the opportunity for us to have a discussion about any weaknesses that they saw in the whole process," she said.

Carnivore is the term used for the entire system, a computer running the Microsoft Windows NT operating system and software that scans and captures "packets," the standard unit of Internet traffic, as they travel through an internet service provider's network. The FBI can install a Carnivore unit at a service provider's network station and configure it to capture only e-mail going to or from a person under investigation.

At a Capitol Hill hearing last month, FBI officials said Carnivore has been used 25 times, including 16 times this year. None of the cases has gone to trial, so the FBI has disclosed no detailed information about them.

Privacy advocates say that only the FBI knows what Carnivore can do, and Internet providers are not allowed access to the system while it is installed.

On Wednesday, the Washington-based Electronic Privacy Information Center asked federal judge to force release of Carnivore's computer source code. U.S. District Judge James Robertson gave the FBI 10 days to respond to the group's Freedom of Information Act request. The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a similar request.

Reno refused to comment on the court cases. Earlier, FBI officials suggested they would object to the request because Carnivore is an investigative tool and making it public might enable suspects to circumvent it.

Congress has taken notice of Carnivore, as well. After the July hearings, two legislators introduced bills to restrict the FBI's power to monitor e-mail traffic, and several high-ranking congressman have reservations about its use.

Reno said the review would start as soon as Justice Department attorneys agreed on the process _ with her encouragement.

"I don't know that I can satisfy all the privacy advocates," she said, "but I want to try to do everything I can."

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