[ISN] House's anti-terror bill requires judge to monitor FBI's use of e-mail surveillance system

From: InfoSec News (isnat_private)
Date: Fri Oct 26 2001 - 02:27:33 PDT

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    Forwarded from: Marjorie Simmons <lawyerat_private>
    By D. IAN HOPPER, Associated Press 
    WASHINGTON (October 25, 2001 01:15 p.m. EDT 
    The anti-terror bill passed Wednesday by the House will require a
    judge to monitor the FBI's use of an e-mail surveillance system that
    has raised concerns about privacy.
    The requirement was inserted into the legislation by House Majority
    Leader Dick Armey and cheered civil liberties groups, which have
    misgivings about the many new powers the bill gives to law enforcers
    to confront alleged terrorists.
    The e-mail system once known as Carnivore is a device installed at an
    Internet company to capture e-mails sent or received by a criminal
    Opponents complain because the FBI won't explain how the device works
    and worry that the broad net it casts may intercept information
    belonging to people who are not targets of investigators.
    "The concern about Carnivore has been its ability to collect too much
    information," said David Sobel, general counsel of the Electronic
    Privacy Information Center. "So it really is critical to have some
    means of overseeing how the technique is actually used."
    The legislative clause inserted by Armey will require investigators to
    tell a judge every detail about a Carnivore installation, including
    who installs and has access to it, its configuration and everything it
    That report would be given to the judge no more than 30 days after the
    expiration of a wiretap order. It would be kept secret but could be
    used as a basis for the judge to consider whether the police over-
    stepped their authority.  "This language will reassure the public that
    these new powers will not be misused," Armey said.
    Armey, R-Texas, has been a staunch critic of Carnivore, now called DCS
    1000. His spokesman, Richard Diamond, said Armey told Rep.  James
    Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., to ensure the language stayed in the final
    version of the legislation. The Justice Department did not object,
    Diamond said.  "It's nothing that would impede the main goal, which is
    to get the bad guys," Diamond said. "It's not a hurdle to any
    investigation if they're following the rules."  Federal agents say
    they need Carnivore and other tools to catch criminals who use the
    Internet to communicate and do business.
    Authorities have used Carnivore-type tools more than 25 times in all
    types of criminal cases, to catch fugitives, drug dealers,
    extortionists and suspected foreign intelligence agents.
    The investigation into the Sept. 11 attacks also has moved online, as
    agents track down e-mail addresses and Web sites used by the airline
    hijackers who destroyed the World Trade Center and damaged the
    Critics still are trying to get information about Carnivore. EPIC has
    filed a lawsuit to get more documents from the FBI, and some Internet
    providers refuse to use it.
    Some of the wiretapping and electronic surveillance portions of the
    terrorism legislation, which largely expands such powers, expire at
    the end of 2005, a compromise made by the Bush administration.  The
    Carnivore reporting requirement is permanent, however. "Right now they
    can install it simply on the basis of a claim that it's related to an
    ongoing investigation. The judges have no discretion,"  American Civil
    Liberties Union associate director Barry Steinhardt said.  "To the
    extent in which it brings a judge into the equation at all, it's
    useful," he said.
    Marjorie Simmons, Esq. 
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