FBI Uses Software at Service Providers to Tap E-mail

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Tue, 11 Jul 2000, 1:30pm EDT FBI Uses Software at Service Providers to Tap E-mail, WSJ Says By Bill Murray

Washington, July 11 (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation is using specialized software installed at Internet service providers to scan millions of e-mail messages a second as a way to covertly track criminal suspects, the Wall Street Journal reported, without citing sources. The system, dubbed Carnivore, can only be used temporarily under a state or federal court order, yet its deployment has raised concerns in the Internet industry because it must be hooked up to the service provider's computer networks and could allow the government to eavesdrop on all customers' digital communications, the newspaper said. Representative Bob Barr, a Georgia Republican who sits on the House Judiciary constitutional-affairs subcommittee, described Carnivore as ``frightening,'' the Journal reported.

Organized-crime families and scam artists are shifting their Wall Street focus from boiler rooms to the Internet and to initial public offerings, federal regulators said last month following a crackdown on alleged gangsters muscling in on stock deals.


-- Martin Thompson (mthom1927@aol.com), July 11, 2000


Saturday, July 15, 2000 Home > Business > Article

FBI puts bite on cyber-space bandits Sharpening its skills...the FBI's new computer weapon, Carnivore, has raised issues about privacy.

The FBI has deployed an automated system to wire-tap the Internet, giving authorities a new tool to police cyberspace but drawing concerns among civil libertarians and privacy advocates about how it might be used.

The new computer system, dubbed "Carnivore" inside the FBI because it rapidly finds the "meat" in vast amounts of data, was developed at FBI computer labs in Quantico, Virginia, and has been used in fewer than 50 cases so far.

But that number was sure to rise, said Mr Marcus Thomas, chief of the FBI's cyber-technology section. "In criminal situations there's not yet been a large call for it," he said, but the bureau already had seen "growth in the rate of requests".

Civil liberties groups said the new system raised troubling issues about what constituted a reasonable search and seizure of electronic data. In sniffing out potential criminal conduct, the new technology also could scan private information about legal activities. "It goes to the heart of how the Fourth Amendment and the federal wire-tap statute are going to be applied in the Internet age," said Mr Marc Rotenberg, head of the Washington-based Electronic Privacy Information Centre.

snip http://www.smh.com.au/news/0007/15/business/business4.html

-- Martin Thompson (mthom1927@aol.com), July 15, 2000.

From the Associated Press

Congress Probes FBI's E-Mail Use Monday July 24, 2000 11:30 pm

WASHINGTON (AP) - Lawmakers of both parties grilled FBI officials Monday over the bureau's use of ``Carnivore,'' a device designed to monitor and capture e-mail messages in a criminal investigation.

Rep. Charles Canady, R-Fla., called the hearings amid concerns from privacy groups about an ordinary computer filled with special software that the FBI calls a ``reasonable balance'' between privacy and law enforcement in an age where crime has gone online.

``Carnivore raises the question as to whether existing statutes protecting citizens from 'unreasonable searches and seizures' under the Fourth Amendment appropriately balance the concerns of law enforcement and privacy,'' said Canady, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee's Constitution panel.

``There seems to me to be a growing level of generalized concern about Big Brotherism that I suspect is being fed by the increasing electronic world,'' said Rep. Melvin L. Watt, D-N.C.

FBI officials defended Carnivore and the bureau's use of the tool to Canady's panel, saying it is used only with proper legal authorization - in many cases coming from both a senior Justice Department official and a judge.

The FBI likened Carnivore to a traditional telephone tap, saying both need probable cause to be undertaken.

Carnivore is the term used for the entire system, a computer running the Microsoft Windows 2000 operating system and software that scans and captures packets, the standard unit of Internet traffic, as thee questionable deaths every year while in police custody or in jail. ``This is an obvious sign that something needs to be done to restore accountability in prisons,'' he said.

The legislation, which passed by a voice vote, now goes to the Senate.

Hutchinson cited a report by the Asbury Park Press of Neptune, New Jersey, which found that many who die behind bars are listed as suicides. But those conclusions often come into question because of inadequate record keeping.

``With no one looking at these deaths from a systematic point of view, we don't know whether there is any pattern or practice relating to such deaths nor whether there is any training needed among law enforcement officials which should limit such occurrences,'' said Rep. Robert Scott, a Democrat.

http://www.guardianunlimited.co.uk/Breaking_News/US/0,3560,317031,00.h tml

-- Martin Thompson (mthom1927@aol.com), July 24, 2000.

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