Essay on Internet Privacy - Carnivore is an Invasion to Privacy
Length: 709 words (2 double-spaced pages)
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Carnivore is an Invasion to Privacy
Carnivore is the FBI's latest toy. All the time we hear about how it is an invasion to privacy, and while I do agree it does have serious problems it also has some moral dilemmas. For example who is subject to Carnivore and where is it located? How much and What kind of information is the FBI interested in getting?
Lets start by looking at just what exactly Carnivore is. Carnivore is an actual piece of hardware that the FBI connects to an internet backbone. According to Compnet.com; "For Carnivore to gain access to this much data, its hardware must be plugged directly into the network at a central location. Because most Internet based communications in the USA flow through large Internet Service Providers (ISPs), the FBI would typically install a Carnivore box inside an ISP data center. Controlled physical and network access improves the system's overall security." Basically from the data center of the ISP Carnivore is able to acquire any information that it chooses to, or is assigned to. Typically a search warrant is issued and the device set to acquire information about a subject. Any email, or other form of communications that the person being viewed is recorded for the FBI to view later. Any information is intercepted once the FBI is in they know all and see all. Which begs the question what if they are getting search warrants on anyone they choose? Who reports them? Who holds the people accountable for spying on people later found out to be innocent? Because Carnivore is a "BLACK BOX" project a lot of information about the project is not being released to the public and if that is not scary enough for you, the people in charge of issuing the warrants and who the FBI labels and those that need to be "Watched" is also not readily available. Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Without an internal regulatory system for the FBI to control the use of carnivore it looks as though anyone anywhere can be tapped.
Carnivore also has other problems too. According to cnn.com; "Specific technical concerns noted by the scientists include a lack of analysis between the Carnivore code and its host environment and operating system, inadequate discussion of the remote access provided by the use of the "PC Anywhere" program, and no evidence of a systematic search for bugs or serious errors.
"PC Anywhere" is an application that allows computer professionals or employees to connect to a network from a remote location. The scientists went on to urge the Justice Department to publish the inner workings of Carnivore for a public review, a request that has also been suggested by several privacy advocate groups." Sounds to me like we are having TECHNICAL difficulties. Basically the FBI is releasing their super sleuth into and environment where it has not been thoroughly tested! Since it is in place on the ISP's back bone this could pose Serious PROBLEMS!! Carnivore has only been used twenty-five times according the cnn.com, and already the FBI is wanting to place them EVERYWHERE! This is not only dangerous it is blatantly stupid. It is bad enough in this day and age with worrying about companies tracking our every move and giving us courtesy calls ( the name is a misnomer), now we have to worry about Big Brother? Personally if I wanted the FBI to know what I wrote in my email I would have sent it to them!!!
In closing, Carnivore is a danger to privacy on the internet. There is too little information being released on how it is used, who is using it, and on whom it is being used. There seems to be no way to hold people accountable at the FBI who use it on innocent people, and what the FBI deems suitable for being watched. And last but certainly not least It STILL HAS BUGS!! It is not even a thoroughly tested piece of hardware! I certainly must say my faith in democracy, and PRIVACY rights inparticular has taken a major hit this year. As you can see the Carnivore needs to be stopped. DOWN WITH CARNIVORE!!! UP WITH PRIVACY RIGHTS!