TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: FBI Retires Controversial E-Mail Surveillance Tool

FBI Retires Controversial E-Mail Surveillance Tool

Lisa Minter (
19 Jan 2005 07:56:33 -0800

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The FBI has all but retired its controversial
e-mail wiretap system formerly known as Carnivore, turning instead to
commercially available software, according to two recently released
reports to Congress.

The monitoring system developed to intercept the e-mail and other
online activities of suspected criminals was not used in fiscal years
2003 and 2002, according to the reports obtained by the Electronic
Privacy Information Center under the Freedom of Information Act.

According to the reports, the FBI used commercially available software
to conduct court-ordered Internet surveillance in criminal
investigations 13 times during that time period.

An FBI spokesman was not immediately available for comment.

The FBI is required by federal law to provide detailed reports on how
it uses Carnivore, the monitoring system now known as DCS 1000.

FBI agents, after receiving a court warrant, install the system on the
suspect's Internet service provider and filter out his e-mail
messages, Web browsing activities and other online communications.

It has come under fire from civil-liberties groups who say it is too
invasive and ripe for abuse.

U.S. law enforcers have argued they need Carnivore to keep up with
criminals who use online communications to plan and carry out
terrorism, spying, fraud, child pornography and other crimes.

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