Carnivore No Threat to Privacy FBI Says
Is a "Carnivore" eating up our civil liberties? "Carnivore" is a new FBI system -- software installed on a dedicated PC -- that can be set up in an Internet service provider's (ISP) location to scan all incoming and outgoing e-mail for messages associated with a criminal investigation. Sort of an e-mail wire-tap.
According to the ACLU and other privacy groups, Carnivore violates the search-and-seizure clauses of the Fourth Amendment by capturing the e-mail addresses of both the sender and receiver, as well as the subject of all e-mails serviced by the ISP's e-mail servers.
Opponents of Carnivore argue that the system is more intrusive than a telephone wiretap in that Carnivore is controlled completely by the law enforcement agency. In a telephone wiretap, the tap is maintained and controlled by the telephone company. Privacy groups argue that Carnivore is the equivalent of a super-wiretap capable of listening to all calls placed by all customers of the telephone service.
|Discuss it here: Carnivore - Ghastly intrusion into personal privacy or necessary crime fighting tool? What do you say?|
However, the FBI counters that Carnivore uses a "packet sniffer" program to determine whether a packet of data flowing through the ISP's server belongs to an e-mail message, a Web site, or some other type of Internet traffic. Thus, says the FBI, Carnivore can be tuned to monitor only the e-mail messages of only selected suspects, making it exactly the same as a legal telephone wiretap.
In fact, argues the FBI, Carnivore captures only the addresses and subject lines (if any) of e-mail messages, not the actual contents of the message, thus making Carnivore actually less potentially intrusive than a telephone tap.
But, say privacy groups, the very flexibility of Carnivore allows the FBI to "tune" it to collect whatever it wants, from any or all Internet users.
So far, no evidence collected by Carnivore has been presented as evidence in court. Until it is, Carnivore's legality and constitutionality, or lack thereof, remains open for debate. (Which you can do here.)
FBI's Internet Wiretaps Raise Privacy Concerns
Washington Post - July 12, 2000
Links to more info about Carnivore, and extensive analysis of the problems it presents. There is a full "Take Action" page which facilitates contacting Congress and other people of influence about Carnivore.
With its new Carnivore eavesdropping system, the FBI may be gnawing its way though through your private e-mail. From J.D. Tuccille, your Civil Liberties Guide.
I-Spy : Critics Blast Cyber Snooping Device
The existence of an FBI system that allows the agency to intercept and analyze an unlimited number of emails has drawn criticism from civil liberties and privacy advocates who fear vast amounts of personal information might get ensnared in its net.
Discussion Group on Carnivore
Carnivore - Ghastly intrusion into personal privacy or necessary crime fighting tool? What do you say?
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