[Hpn] Lawmakers: Stop Snooping on E-mail
Wed, 19 Jul 2000 07:40:44 -0400
Lawmakers: Stop Snooping on E-mailGROUP ITS TIME FOR OUR GOVERNMENT TO ACT
RESPONSIBILTY, AND END THIS POVERTY ISSUE WITH THE ACTION PLANS THAT WERE
SUBMITTED OVER 6 MONTHS AGO TO THEM! THIS MEANS LOCAL STATE AND FEDERAL
GOVERNMENTS MUST BE MADE TO WORK FOR WE THE PEOPLE NOT A FEW SOCIALLY OR
William Charles Tinker
25 Granite Street
Northfield,New Hampshire 03276
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Tuesday July 18 07:02 PM EDT
Lawmakers: Stop Snooping on E-mail
WASHINGTON (APBnews.com) -- The pressure is mounting on the Justice
Department to suspend a controversial new FBI wiretap system that allows
agents access to vast amounts of e-mail traffic.
The so-called Carnivore system, which has come under fire from
lawmakers as well as civil liberties groups since revelations about its
existence surfaced last week, gives the FBI widespread access to monitor
Internet service providers.
Members of Congress, led by House Majority leader Dick Armey, R-Texas,
are drafting a letter they expect to send to Attorney General Janet Reno
later this week urging her to put the wiretap system on hold until privacy
concerns are resolved.
"The Carnivore system should not be used until concerns are
addressed," Armey spokesman Richard Diamond told APBnews.com today. "There
has been such a dramatic shift in what the FBI can monitor; there needs to
be a public discussion. That's why the outrage. This was going on for a year
and nobody knew."
Reno ordered review
Responding to concerns raised last week, Reno ordered a review of
Carnivore but has no plans to order the program suspended, officials said
"The attorney general is looking into it to make sure she understands
it and that it is applied fairly," said spokeswoman Chris Watney.
Last week Armey asked Reno and FBI Director Louis Freeh to "stop using
this cybersnooping system until Fourth Amendment concerns are adequately
'The keys to the kingdom'
Rep. Bob Barr -- who described the Carnivore system surveillance
abilities as "frightening" -- may demand similar restraints at a
congressional oversight hearing on the program next Monday, a spokesman
"He is concerned about the lack of controls," said Brad Alexander, a
spokesman for the Georgia Republican.
Civil libertarians, also outraged at the extent of the FBI's ability
to monitor the e-mails of innocent people, also want Carnivore suspended.
"They want the keys to the kingdom," said American Civil Liberties
Union Associate Director Barry Steinhardt, who is scheduled to testify at
the subcommittee hearing Monday. "They want the entire stream of
communications, and they expect us to trust them. Well, I don't. They have a
history of abuse and stretching beyond the limits of what they are entitled
A critical tool, FBI says
FBI officials said they want the opportunity to demonstrate how
critical the system is to its crime-fighting efforts.
"People need to know how critical this is," said bureau spokesman Paul
Bresson, who said the agency wants to show the public how Carnivore works on
Monday. "It gives us the ability to intercept conversations of criminals who
are using the cyberworld the same way the rest of us are."
The FBI, in a statement describing Carnivore, said the system gives
agents the "surgical" ability to intercept and collect information under
Federal wiretaps have led to the convictions of 25,600 felons in the
last 13 years, according to the FBI.
New wiretap rules sought
The renewed outcry comes a day after White House Chief of Staff John
Podesta announced proposals that would require a more stringent approval
process for FBI wiretaps, while at the same time expanding the agency's
ability to conduct electronic surveillance.
The ACLU said the White House did not go far enough in its response to
increasing government surveillance powers.
Steinhardt called the proposal a "camouflage for Carnivore," he said,
when the administration should have "disavowed or suspended" the program. He
also said the proposals stand little chance of being enacted before the
Clinton administration leaves office.
The ACLU on Friday filed a Freedom of Information Act request for the
source code, or computer program instructions, and other technical details
about the Internet wiretapping program. The FBI said it will comply with
FOIA rules and release whatever information it is able to disclose by early
By Amy Worden, an APBnews.com staff writer.