Miércoles 5 de Junio de 2002, Ip nº 16

FBI 'Carnivore' glitch hurt al Qaeda probe
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- Glitches in a controversial FBI system to monitor the e-mail of suspected criminals likely hampered an investigation of al Qaeda two years ago, according to internal FBI documents released Tuesday.

According to memos obtained by the Electronic Privacy Information Center, FBI investigators threw out the results of an e-mail wiretap in March 2000 because the system, commonly known as "Carnivore," collected electronic messages of regular Internet users as well as the target of the probe.

While the target was blacked out in the memo, the FBI unit in question was charged with monitoring Osama bin Laden, said David Sobel, the EPIC lawyer who obtained the documents under the Freedom of Information Act. Washington blames bin Laden and his al Qaeda network for the September 11 attacks that killed about 3,000 people.

"The FBI software not only picked up the e-mails under the electronic surveillance of the FBI's target ... but also picked up e-mails on non-covered targets.

The FBI technical person was apparently so upset that he destroyed all the e-mail take," said an unidentified supervisor in an April 5, 2000, memo to M.E. "Spike" Bowman, the FBI's associate general counsel for national security issues.

The documents do not imply the FBI could have prevented the September 11 attacks, but they do highlight problems with the implementation of Carnivore, Sobel said.

"This shows that the FBI has been misleading Congress and the public about the extent to which Carnivore is capable of collecting only authorized information," he said.

An FBI official declined to comment.

Developed to intercept the e-mail and other online activities of suspected criminals, Carnivore has come under fire from lawmakers and civil liberties groups who say it is too invasive.

FBI officials have told Congress the system captures only a narrow field of information for which interception is authorized by a court order.

The documents showed Carnivore had occasionally grabbed the e-mail messages of other Internet users, especially when set up to work on unusual e-mail systems.

"Encountering nonstandard implementation has led to inadvertently capturing and processing data outside the Order of Consent," says one memo from an FBI field officer.

  29/05/2002. CNN.


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