Last Updated By Endtime Prophecy Net : July 29, 2011
ACLU Urges Congress To Put A Leash On "Carnivore" And Other
Government Snoopware Programs
ACLU Press Release
July 12, 2000
WASHINGTON -- Law enforcement officials using new
surveillance technologies online are racing far ahead of
established privacy law and must be reined in, the American
Civil Liberties Union said today.
In a letter sent to Charles T. Canady, R-FL, Chair of the
Constitution Subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee,
and ranking member Melvin L. Watt, D-NC, the ACLU said that
the unbridled uses of these technologies "cry out for
Congressional attention if we are to preserve Fourth
Amendment rights in the digital age."
Specifically, the ACLU sharply criticized the FBI's new
online wiretapping program, dubbed "Carnivore," that uses
Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to intercept and analyze
huge amounts of e-mail from suspects and non-suspects alike.
"It is high time that lawmakers put a leash on Carnivore and
other government schemes that go way beyond what Congress
authorized under the Electronic Communications Protection
Act," said Laura W. Murphy, director of the ACLU's
Washington National Office and an author of the letter.
Currently, law enforcement is required to "minimize" its
interception of non-incriminating communications of a target
of a wiretap order. But Carnivore does just the opposite,
Murphy said, by sweeping in e-mails from innocent Internet
users as well as the targeted suspect.
Barry Steinhardt, Associate Director of the ACLU and an
author of the letter, said that implementing Carnivore "is
comparable to allowing government agents to rip open Post
Office mailbags and scan every piece of mail in search of
one specific letter whose address they already know."
He also noted that while the system is plugged into the ISP,
it is controlled solely by the law enforcement agency. In a
traditional wiretap, the tap is physically placed and
maintained by the telephone company.
The snoopware program first came to light during an April 6
hearing before the Constitution Subcommittee. The Carnivore
system -- essentially a computer running specialized
software-- is attached either when law enforcement has a
court order permitting it to intercept in "real time" the
contents of the electronic communications of a specific
individual, or a trap-and-trace or pen register order
allowing to it obtain the numbers related to communications
from or to a specified target.
But "in the Internet context," the ACLU letter said, "these
orders and certainly Carnivore likely involve ascertaining
the suspect's e-mail address, as well as header information
that may provide information regarding the content of the
In urging Congress to accelerate its consideration of
applying Fourth Amendment principles in the digital age, "we
would be happy to work with the Subcommittee on drafting
legislation that protects the privacy rights of Americans,"
the ACLU letter said.
The letter was signed by Murphy, Steinhardt, and Gregory T.
Nojeim, legislative counsel with the ACLU's Washington
National Office, who testified at the April 6 hearing.
In recent related developments, the ACLU has criticized
other government surveillance schemes, including a global
electronic surveillance system -- known by the code name of
"Echelon" -- that is capturing satellite, microwave,
cellular and fiber-optic communications worldwide.