Technology Report Is big Brother watching our every computer move? Is the government (FBI, specifically) reading and filtering our email and where we go on the web? According to the critics of the FBI’s new CARNIVORE program, the answer is a resounding “yes”. However, according to FBI spokesperson John Collingwood (in a letter to the LA Times on August 7, 2000), CARNIVORE is not a government-backed spy program to invade the privacy of US citizens--it is an effective weapon (similar to phone taps) in the war against crime.
The articles for this review included: 1. “Critics attack FBI email snooping device” at CNN.com (7/12/00); 2. “Email snoop “CARNIVORE” to get review” at channelcincinnati.com (7/25/00); and 3. “Newly released FBI documents show CARNIVORE can swallow more information than bureau claims” at epi.org (11/16/00).
What is CARNIVORE? According to the FBI, CARNIVORE is a program used in conjunction with a suspect’s ISP (and ordered by the court) to collect internet and email information on specific suspects in active crime investigations. It is a filtering tool to collect information to be used in the conviction of criminals. The FBI reports that the program is not used to randomly spy on individuals, nor does it record all of the traffic from an ISP. Similar to how a wiretap records phone calls, CARNIVORE captures email messages and all network traffic from an individual’s IP address by filtering all of the data at an ISP.
The ACLU argues that CARNIVORE “breaches the ISP’s rights and rights of its customers by reading both sender and recipient addresses, as well as subject lines of emails to decide whether to make a copy of the entire message” (CNN.com, 7/12/00). Their other concern is that CARNIVORE is completed controlled by the law enforcement officials, unlike a wiretap that is maintained by the local phone company. The ACL...
1. “Critics attack FBI email snooping device” at CNN.com (7/12/00); 2. “Email snoop “CARNIVORE” to get review” at channelcincinnati.com (7/25/00); and 3. “Newly released FBI documents show CARNIVORE can swallow more information than bureau claims” at epi.org (11/16/00).