Fbi Tosses Carnivore To The Dogs
Bureau oversight reports acquired by the Electronic Privacy Information Center under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act indicate that the FBI has scrapped its proprietary Carnivore Internet surveillance technology in favor of commercial wiretap software. The FBI’s Paul Bresson said the commercial software is not only cheaper, but much better at copying a targeted online account’s communications without disturbing other subscribers.
Documents submitted to Senate and House oversight committees said that not once was Carnivore used in the 13 Internet wiretaps the FBI carried out in fiscal 2002 and fiscal 2003; the bureau, which once touted Carnivore as being vastly superior to off-the-shelf software, previously reported that the technology was used about 25 times between 1998 and 2000.
Chicago-Kent College of Law professor Henry Perritt Jr., who directed an oversight study of Carnivore four years ago for the Justice Department, said the FBI developed the surveillance system in-house because commercially available tools were found wanting. He also said he did not know of any commercial wiretap software with audit features capable enough to persuade a federal judge that emails from innocent parties were accidentally collected.
Experts drew parallels between Carnivore’s approximately four-year life span and the life expectancy of state-of-the-art products developed by the private sector.
Outside analysts estimated that Carnivore’s development probably cost the government between $6 million and $15 million.
Abstracted by the National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center(NLECTC) from the Associated Press (01/18/05) .