EPIC logo
November 21, 2000
11:00 p.m. ET
WASHINGTON, DC - An "independent review" of the FBI's "Carnivore"
Internet monitoring system raises more questions than it answers,
according to the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC).  A
sanitized version of the review report was released this evening by
the Department of Justice.
The review found that FBI agents operating the Carnivore system can
inadvertently collect more private communications than permitted by
law, underscoring the potential dangers of the invasive technology.
The finding raises troubling possibilities, according to EPIC
General Counsel David Sobel. "If it's that easy for the FBI to
accidentally collect too much data, imagine how simple it would be
for agents to do so intentionally," Sobel said.  "This supports our
belief that Carnivore raises extremely serious privacy concerns."
After the existence of Carnivore was disclosed earlier this year,
EPIC joined other civil liberties and privacy organizations in
questioning the legality of the system. According to Sobel, nothing
in today's report addresses the fundamental legal and constitutional
questions surrounding Carnivore.
"The problem with Carnivore is that it gives the FBI access to the
communications of hundreds, if not thousands, of innocent Internet
users," Sobel said.  "It's not sufficient for the Bureau to say,
'Trust us, we won't do anything wrong.'  Most users want more of an
assurance than that."  Indeed, the review team conceded that it "did
not find adequate provisions (e.g. audit trails) for establishing
individual accountability for actions taken during use of
EPIC has criticized the review process that produced the new report,
and tonight reiterated that a closed, tightly controlled technical
review is not an adequate substitute for full public disclosure of
information concerning Carnivore.  In an effort to compel such
disclosure, EPIC is currently pursuing a Freedom of Information Act
lawsuit against the FBI and the Justice Department.  An FBI document
released to EPIC late last week suggests that Carnivore might
capture far more information than the Bureau has claimed publicly.
(See http://www.epic.org/privacy/carnivore/11_16_release.html).
The report was produced by a review team from the Illinois Institute
of Technology and was sanitized for release by Justice Department
officials.  EPIC has filed a new FOIA request seeking the release of
the complete, uncensored report.
EPIC is a non-profit, public interest research organization in
Washington, DC.  Selected Carnivore documents released as part of
EPIC's FOIA lawsuit are available at:
The Carnivore review report is available at:
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