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U.S. Justice Department releases criteria for 'Carnivore' review

(CNN) -- The U.S. Department of Justice released guidelines Thursday for an independent review of the so-called "Carnivore" system to ensure that its Internet wire-tapping capabilities do not violate privacy rights.

The guidelines were posted to the Justice Department's Web site Thursday night and outline the required technical qualifications of the U.S. university that will be chosen to study Carnivore as well as the timeframe to present the findings.

With the help of several Internet service providers, Carnivore has been used by the FBI to intercept e-mail transmissions of suspected criminals. In each case, a court order is required for its implementation.

But civil rights groups have argued that Carnivore could overstep the bounds of privacy rights and demanded that its coding be released and reviewed in an independent manner.

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The Justice Department's guidelines for the review state that it seeks "to avoid any appearance of improper influence by the Department, including the FBI, or by other law enforcement or governmental interests."

The guidelines add that while the estimated cost to the government will be a factor, technical merit of the chosen institution is "significantly more important than the total cost."

The academic experts will have full access to any information about Carnivore's system to conduct their report, which is intended to reveal whether Carnivore adheres to the limitations established by the Justice Department.

According to the Justice Department's guidelines, bid proposals are due on September 6 and the contract will be awarded on September 25. The first draft of the review will be due on November 17, followed by a period for public comment.

The final report will be submitted on December 8.

  OBJECTIVES
Primary objectives of the technical review:

1) Assuming proper usage, will the Carnivore system provide investigators with all the information, and only the information, that it is designed and set to provide in accordance with a court order?

2) Assuming proper usage, will use of the Carnivore system introduce new, material risks of operational or security impairment of an ISP's network?

3) Does use of the Carnivore system introduce new, material risks of the unauthorized acquisition, whether intentional or unintentional, of electronic communication information by (i) FBI personnel or (ii) persons other than FBI personnel?

4) Are the protections built into the Carnivore system, including both audit functions and operational procedures or practices, commensurate with the level of the risks, if any, identified in response to (3) above?

Source: U.S. Department of Justice

 


RELATED STORIES:
FBI to release Carnivore documents, but schedule draws fire
August 17, 2000
For hire: Hackers to help Pentagon prevent attacks
August 1, 2000
FBI says Carnivore will not devour privacy
July 21, 2000
Critics bash U.S. plan for surveillance standards
July 21, 2000
ACLU: Block FBI e-snoops
July 17, 2000

RELATED SITES:
U.S. Department of Justice
Federal Bureau of Investigation
Electronic Privacy Information Center
American Civil Liberties Union


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