Carnivore

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Note: Due to negative public reaction, the project may have been renamed DCS1000

The United States Federal Bureau of Investigation operates an electronic listening system they call Carnivore. The FBI describes Carnivore as a diagnostic device.

The FBI said on it's Web site: "This is a matter of employing new technology to lawfully obtain important information while providing enhanced privacy protection.

"The Carnivore device provides the FBI with a 'surgical' ability to intercept and collect the communications which are the subject of the lawful order while ignoring those communications which they are not authorized to intercept. This type of tool is necessary to meet the stringent requirements of the federal wiretapping statutes.

"The Carnivore device works much like commercial 'sniffers' and other network diagnostic tools used by ISPs every day, except that it provides the FBI with a unique ability to distinguish between communications which may be lawfully intercepted and those which may not. For example, if a court order provides for the lawful interception of one type of communication (e.g., e-mail), but excludes all other communications (e.g., online shopping) the Carnivore tool can be configured to intercept only those e-mails being transmitted either to or from the named subject.

"Carnivore serves to limit the messages viewable by human eyes to those which are strictly included within the court order. ISP knowledge and assistance, as directed by court order, is required to install the device.

"Use of the Carnivore system by the FBI is subject to intense oversight from internal FBI controls, the U. S. Department of Justice (both at a Headquarters level and at a U.S. Attorney's Office level), and by the Court. There are significant penalties for misuse of the tool, including exclusion of evidence, as well as criminal and civil penalties. The system is not susceptible to abuse because it requires expertise to install and operate, and such operations are conducted, as required in the court orders, with close cooperation with the ISPs.

"The FBI is sharing information regarding Carnivore with industry at this time to assist them in their efforts to develop open standards for complying with wiretap requirements. The FBI did so at the request of the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA) Implementation Section, at an industry standards meeting (the Joint Experts Meeting) which was set up in response to an FCC suggestion to develop standards for Internet interception." [1]

SourceWatch Resources

External links

  • "'Carnivore' Chewed Up," DefenseTech.org, January 17, 2005: "The Bureau is now using 'commercially-available products to conduct Internet surveillance' instead."