Justice releases RFP for Carnivore technical review

Justice releases RFP for Carnivore technical review<@VM>Americans seek privacy, yet conduct sensitive matters online, survey says

By Shruti Dat'

GCN Staff

The Justice Department last month released a request for proposals seeking an independent technical team to review Carnivore, the FBI's controversial e-mail filtering application. Justice plans to award a contract to a university team by Sept. 25.

The technical team will review the system's design, function and use. The review itself is technical, not legal, Justice officials said. Proposals are due Tuesday, Sept. 6.

Justice wants the review team to consider four questions:

' Will Carnivore provide investigators with only the information that a given court order would allow?

' Will the application introduce new operational or security risks to the Internet service provider's network on which it resides?

' Does Carnivore introduce new risks if the filtered information, whether intentionally or unintentionally, is acquired by unauthorized persons?

' Are the built-in protections, including both the audit functions and operational procedures, commensurate with the risks?

Elements of concern

Justice's RFP noted that Carnivore consists of some commercial software and hardware elements, including Microsoft Windows. The scope of the review should include the overall configuration but should not 'entail exhaustive evaluation of those elements,' the RFP said.

The technical team must submit a draft report by Nov. 17, for review by a panel of Justice officials.

Justice chief information officer Stephen R. Colgate, assistant attorney general for administration, will head the panel. It will also include: Justice chief science and technology officer Donald Prosnitz; chief privacy officer Ed Dumont; Donald M. Kerr, assistant director of the FBI's Laboratory Division; and representatives from the bureau's Criminal Division.

A final report is due to Attorney General Janet Reno by Dec. 8.
By Shruti Dat'

GCN Staff

The government and industry, as issues such as the FBI's Carnivore program illustrate, are under pressure to protect people's privacy online.

Despite an outcry for privacy, Americans conduct a striking number of 'intimate and trusting things on the Internet,' according to a recent report from the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press.'The Washington center found that American Internet users 'overwhelmingly want the presumption of privacy when they go online.'

The survey reported that 86 percent of Internet users have concerns about someone accessing their personal information. The report, Trust and Privacy Online: Why Americans Want to Rewrite the Rules, polled 2,117 Americans, of whom 1,017 are Internet users.

Asked who would do the best job setting online privacy rules, 50 percent said Internet users; 24 percent said the federal government; and 18 percent said Internet companies.

'In the past three month, a series of events have heightened sensitivities,' the report said.

For example, in June the federal Office of National Drug Control Policy was found to be using cookies to track Web surfers' drug-related information requests.

'After a storm of criticism that this might allow the drug czar's office to clandestinely record citizens' online activities, the Office of Management and Budget banned cookies on federal government Web sites,' the report noted.

More recently, privacy advocates criticized the FBI's use of its Carnivore e-mail filtering program.

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