House spending bill clamps down on Carnivore

The FBI and its controversial Carnivore email monitoring system could get renewed scrutiny

H.R. 2215: Justice Department authorization bill

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The FBI and its controversial Carnivore e-mail monitoring system could get renewed scrutiny under provisions of the Justice Department's fiscal 2002 appropriations bill passed by the House.

The bill, approved last month, would require the attorney general and the FBI director to submit a detailed annual report on the use of systems, including Carnivore. Provisions of the bill also would create a deputy inspector general position within Justice to focus specifically on the FBI.

Carnivore, which the FBI has renamed DCS1000, enables law enforcement officials to tap certain types of data — such as the "to" and "from" information — coming through Internet service providers' networks.

For Carnivore, the bill would require the FBI to provide the House and Senate judiciary committees with several pieces of information, including:

* The number of times the system was used during the previous fiscal year.

* The Justice officials who approved each use of the system and the criteria those officials used to review the request.

* A complete description of the process used to submit, review and approve a request for Carnivore.

* The specific statutory authority that lets the FBI use Carnivore.

* Details about the number of warrants or subpoenas that authorities applied for to use Carnivore, whether those orders were granted and the offenses that were specified in the order.

Opponents have argued that law enforcement officials should be required to get the same kind of court order needed for a telephone wiretap. FBI officials have said that the bureau can use Carnivore under the less-restrictive rules that allow authorities to gather telephone numbers of calls a suspect may make or receive.

David Sobel, general counsel for the Electronic Privacy Information Center, a Washington, D.C., privacy group, said the House measure does not go far enough, but he said it represents an "important first step" because it will provide the public with information that it has not had.

The Senate must still take action on the bill.

NEXT STORY: Illegal immigrant data untapped

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