Name change doesn't impress Carnivore's critics

Name change doesn't impress Carnivore's critics

By Matt McLaughlin

GCN Staff

FEB. 13—The FBI's name change for its Internet wiretapping program, from Carnivore to DCS1000, wasn't the alteration one of the application's most vocal critics wanted to see.

'The only thing we've seen come out of the FBI or the Justice Department is the new name, which is a matter of public relations more than anything else,' David Sobel, general counsel of the Electronic Privacy Information Center. 'But I haven't seen any changes that are a response to the criticisms of Carnivore.'

EPIC and other groups advocating Internet privacy have expressed concerns that Carnivore could be used to intrude on Web users' electronic communications. The FBI uses the program to capture and examine e-mail messages of subjects under investigation.

EPIC filed a Freedom of Information Act request for the FBI's data on the program and received 565 pages of information on Oct. 2. The privacy group, however, still wants more information from the agency.

'Our litigation regarding the disclosure of information about Carnivore is ongoing,' Sobel said. 'The FBI has released everything they're going to release, so we will have to see how the courts rule on our lawsuits for more information over the next few months.'

Among the documents released to EPIC was a report which stated that tests revealed Carnivore could 'reliably capture and archive all unfiltered traffic to the internal hard drive' of the system running the program. The passage drew additional questions from EPIC, which has expressed concern about the FBI's ability to capture e-mail that isn't specified in the court order needed to use Carnivore.

Sens. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) and Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.), chairman and ranking Democrat, respectively, of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which has oversight in the matter, sent a letter to the FBI asking director Louis J. Freeh to explain why Carnivore was tested for such an ability.

Donald M. Kerr, assistant director of the FBI's Laboratory Division, responded in a letter on Jan. 21 that the quotation from the report was taken out of context. Kerr added that the program could only capture all the unfiltered traffic in a 'very small' Internet service provider and that the bureau could not foresee any circumstances under which such a capability would be used.

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