FBIs Carnivore Is Toothless

By Caron Carlson  |  Posted 2005-01-24
The FBI has steered clear of its much-criticized e-mail eavesdropping system in favor of off-the-shelf wares when it comes to court-ordered surveillance.

The agency last week admitted it made little or no use of the system, first known as Carnivore and then as DCS 1000, during 2002 and 2003, opting instead to use commercial software for court-approved wiretaps of Internet communications.

In mandatory reports to Congress, the bureau said it deployed commercial wiretapping technology to implement eight court-ordered surveillance projects in 2003 and five projects in 2002.

Congress, which became alarmed at Carnivores potential to invade civil rights, ordered the FBI to report annually on its use. Carnivore reportedly cost between $6 million and $15 million to create.

The FBI obtained court approval to use electronic wiretaps on subjects suspected of extortion, arson, child exploitation, providing material support to terrorists, and making obscene or harassing telephone calls in the District of Columbia, among other things, according to the reports.

Information on the bureaus use of network monitoring technology last year is not yet available.

Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, views and analysis of technologys impact on government and politics.

Rocket Fuel