For immediate release
October 2, 2000
WASHINGTON, DC - The Federal Bureau of Investigation today released 565 pages from government files on the Internet monitoring program known as "Carnivore." The documents were disclosed to the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) following a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by the privacy rights organization.
Of the material released, nearly 200 pages were withheld in full and another 400 pages were redacted, many completely except for the page numbers. The source code to the Carnivore system was withheld.
According to the documents, the Carnivore program was conceived under the name "Omnivore" in February 1997. It was proposed originally for a Solaris X86 computer. Omnivore was replaced by Carnivore running on a Windows NT-based computer in June 1999. Other documents include discussion of interception of Voice Over IP (VOIP) and reviews of tests for performance and recovery from attacks and crashes for both systems.
EPIC filed the FOIA lawsuit after the FBI revealed that it had developed an Internet monitoring system that would be installed at the facilities of an Internet Service Provider (ISP) and would monitor all traffic moving through that ISP. The Department of Justice announced a plan for independent review, but EPIC's General Counsel David Sobel said at the time that "there is no substitute for a full and open public review of the Carnivore system. The only way that the privacy questions can be resolved is for the FBI to release all relevant information, both legal and technical."
The EPIC FOIA request seeks the public release of all FBI records concerning Carnivore, including the source code, other technical details, and legal analyses addressing the potential privacy implications of the technology.
At an emergency hearing held on August 2, U.S. District Judge James Robertson ordered the FBI to report back to the court by August 16 and to identify the amount of material at issue and the Bureau's schedule for releasing it. The FBI subsequently reported that 3000 pages of responsive material were located, but it refused to commit to a date for the completion of processing.
The FBI subsequently agreed to disclose records to EPIC every 45 days. Today EPIC received the first set of documents from the FBI.
Last week, the FBI announced that it had selected the Illinois Institute of Technology Research Institute (IITRI) to review the system after many academic institutions refused to accept the secrecy requirements that were a condition of submitting a bid.
Marc Rotenberg, EPIC Executive Director, said today "We intend to pursue the litigation until the relevant documents are disclosed. We do not dispute the need of law enforcement to protect public safety or pursue criminals in the online world. But the use of investigative methods that monitor Internet traffic and capture the private communications of innocent users raise enormously important privacy issues that must be subject to public review and public approval."
EPIC is a public interest research organization in Washington, DC. More details about the case are avilable at the EPIC Carnivore Litigation Page:http://www.epic.org/privacy/carnivore/