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FBI NOT READY TO RELEASE CARNIVORE DATA.

FBI officials, in a letter sent to U.S. Rep. Bob Barr (R-Ga.), said the bureau was "not presently in a position" to provide the documents he requested. "There remains substantial public misunderstanding and misinformation about the system," John Collingwood, assistant director for public affairs, wrote in the letter, which was quoted by The Wall Street Journal.

The FBI has used Carnivore in criminal and national security investigations to read the e-mail of suspects in an effort to determine whom the suspects are communicating with. The FBI has said its use is legal under U.S. wiretap law, but privacy wonks are not fully convinced that Carnivore meets those strict guidelines and have been critical of the FBI for using the technology.

Despite the FBI's rejection of Barr's request for information about Carnivore, U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno has reiterated that the government plans to sign on a university or an independent laboratory to conduct verification and validation tests on the surveillance system.

"What we are doing is reaching out to major universities to try to retain such a university with expertise in the area to review the Carnivore system and provide a report on the findings," Reno said, according to a transcript of her weekly press briefing. Reno added that she "will approve the final selection of the university after consulting with the privacy and the law enforcement [communities]."

The review team will have complete access to any information it needs to examine Carnivore, Reno said. Interested parties will be briefed on the findings, and the review team's report also will be made available to the public.

Barr introduced the Digital Privacy Act of 2000 on July 28. The legislation updates wiretapping laws to enhance privacy protections and to bring them in line with technological developments such as the Internet, wireless phones and e-mail.

The bill would extend reporting statutes so that law enforcement officials would have to report on their interception of electronic communications, such as e-mail. It would also block the introduction of electronic evidence in court if it's obtained illegally and prevent the government from tracking the location of cell-phone users without a court order.
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Title Annotation:Government Activity
Comment:FBI NOT READY TO RELEASE CARNIVORE DATA.(Government Activity)
Publication:EDP Weekly's IT Monitor
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Aug 28, 2000
Words:360
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