Federal Internet Law & Policy
An Educational Project


Dont be a FOOL; The Law is Not DIY
- Agencies
- - White House
- - DHS
- - NIST
- - NTIA
- - FCC
- Reference
- Cryptography

Crimes Against Network
- Worms, Viruses, Attacks
- Hackers
- WiFi Security
- Cyberwar
- Network Reliability
- Infrastructure Protection
- - Kill Switch

Crimes Over Network
- CyberStalking
- Fraud
- - Auctions
- - Phishing
- Gambling
- ID Theft
- Offensive Words

Info Gathering
- Wiretaps
- Forensics
- Carnivore
- Patriot Act
- Data Retention
- Safe Web Act

- Assessment
- Reliability
- Vulnerabilities

Carnivore is the unimaginably poorly named FBI technology used in the late 1990s in order to execute trap and trace or pen registers on Internet networks. Eventually it occurred to the FBI that "Carnivore" might have been a poor selection of names, so it renamed the technology DCS-1000. The FBI describes Carnivore as follows:

Carnivore is, in essence, a special filtering tool that can gather the information authorized by court order, and only that information. It permits law enforcement, for example, to gather only the email addresses of those persons with whom the drug dealer is communicating, without allowing any human being, either from law enforcement or the service provider, to view private information outside of the scope of the court's order. In other words, Carnivore is a minimization tool that permits law enforcement strictly to comply with court orders, strongly to protect privacy, and effectively to enforce the law to protect the public interest. In addition, Carnivore creates an audit trail that demonstrates exactly what it is capturing.

[Gregory] Simply because the FBI has authority to use Carnivore, it does not mean that they will use the technology. They may be satisfied if the ISP gathers the information on its own. According to the FBI

If the service provider can comply with the order and provide us with only the addressing information required by the court order, it will do so and we will not employ Carnivore. If, however, the service provider is unwilling or unable to comply with the order, we simply cannot give a criminal a free pass. It is for that narrow set of circumstances that the FBI designed "Carnivore."

[Gregory] Increasingly, Carnivore capabilities are being required of ISPs and VoIP service providers pursuant to the FCC's CALEA authority.

To say that Carnivore has stirred a controversy is an understatement. Technology is an equal opportunity empowered. It may give the bad guys greater opportunity to be bad. It may give good guys better opportunity to protect. The problem is, as we all know from history, at times the good guys are the bad guys and the bad guys are the good guys. And one of the greatest ways of ensuring that the good guys stay the good guys is fundamental democratic principles of open government and accountability. Accountability over the odd guy in a van with ear phones clipped into the telephone pole is not the same as accountability over a black box which can consume all communication over a pipe, whether within the scope of the authority or not. The question is, "who watches over those who watch over us." [EPIC] Foundational democratic principles have not yet adjusted well to the power of the new technology to both make good efforts better and bad efforts worse.

Government Activity




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