The Electronic Privacy Information Center won another round this week in its ongoing battle with the FBI over access to records pertaining to the Carnivore surveillance system.
A federal judge has ruled that the nearly 2,000 pages of documents the bureau produced in response to EPICs request under the Freedom of Information Act likely dont constitute all of the relevant material and ordered the FBI to conduct another search.
Specifically, EPIC is looking for documents from the FBIs Office of General Counsel and Office of Congressional and Public Affairs which EPIC lawyers believe will have information regarding the privacy-protection components of Carnivore.
"Were hoping to obtain documents that address the legal and policy issues surrounding Carnivore, and to learn how the FBI and [Department of Justice] assessed the privacy implications of Carnivore before it was deployed," said David Sobel, general counsel for EPIC, based in Washington. "That kind of material is likely to be located in the offices that must now be searched, which is why we asked the court to order such a search."
Now known as the DCS-1000, Carnivore is a sophisticated software system that the FBI uses to eavesdrop on e-mail messages at the ISP level during the execution of court-approved search warrants. EPIC and other privacy advocates are seeking proof that the FBI doesnt use the system to monitor random e-mail messages or in any other manner which might invade consumer privacy.
The FBI will have 60 days to complete the new search, according to the order signed Monday by Judge James Robertson of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
The FBIs original search produced 1,957 pages of material, which it turned over to EPIC.
Robertson also denied an EPIC motion to stay the court proceedings and give the organization discovery privileges regarding the adequacy of the FBIs document search.