FBI launches Net-tapping tool

FBI launches Net-tapping tool

The FBI this month rolled out a new evidence-gathering tool that will let it collect information about suspects from Internet transmissions.

The system, dubbed Carnivore, has ignited a privacy debate about whether the government should use an Internet tapping tool to pursue suspects. The bureau maintains it will use the system to collect 'hard evidence'not intelligence.'

The bureau's use of Carnivore will fall within existing statutes for criminal surveillance, Justice Department officials said.

'I do not want it to be a tool that is, in any way, a cause of concern for privacy interest,' Attorney General Janet Reno said this month at a media briefing. 'If we do it carefully and thoughtfully, we can utilize the technology and protect the constitutional rights.'

The bureau developed the system, according to an FBI statement, because many Internet service providers have been unable during criminal investigations to identify a particular subject's messages to the exclusion of all others. To use the system, the FBI will need court orders, just as it would for wiretaps.

'William Jackson, Patricia Daukantas, Shruti Dat' and Bill Murray

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