Justice will have university review Carnivore

Justice will have university review Carnivore

Janet Reno says a Justice panel will analyze the university's findings.

By Shruti Dat'

GCN Staff

The Justice Department will ask a university to review the FBI's controversial e-mail filtering application'a plan that privacy advocates already are criticizing.

The bureau developed its filtering tool, Carnivore, to run on Internet service providers' networks and intercept e-mail messages.

Justice will seek a university with security and systems expertise to evaluate the system and report on its privacy protections, Attorney General Janet Reno said this month at a briefing.

Code request

The Electronic Privacy Information Center, which last month submitted a Freedom of Information Act request asking that the FBI provide detailed information about the homegrown Carnivore application, said the planned review is insufficient.

'From a purely technical standpoint, this is not the way a system is typically reviewed. The norm is to have an open review process'that's how security systems are vetted,' said David Sobel, the Washington center's general counsel. 'I think the technical community will not have a lot of faith in it.'

It remains unclear whether Justice will fully disclose the application's technical and legal underpinnings, he said. In its FOIA request, the privacy group asked the FBI to release the Carnivore source code.

Justice said last week that it would release some information to the center after a 45-day review of 3,000 pages of Carnivore documentation.'

The FBI said it would not publicly release the code because it built the system with proprietary but commercial software.

'We don't know if the FBI has asked the private company for the disclosure or if the FBI has been hiding behind the private company's supposed claim,' Sobel said.

But Reno said the university selected to review the application would have 'total access to any information they need to conduct their review.'

A Justice panel will analyze the university report and any public feedback. Interested parties also will be briefed on the findings, which will be made available for public comment, Justice officials said.

Justice chief information officer Stephen R. Colgate, assistant attorney general for administration, will head the department review panel.

The Justice panel by Dec. 1 will submit its analysis of the university report and all public comments to Reno.

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