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FBI access to e-mail and Web records raises fears

July 30th, 2010 . by TexasFred

FBI access to e-mail and Web records raises fears

WASHINGTON (AP) – Invasion of privacy in the Internet age. Expanding the reach of law enforcement to snoop on e-mail traffic or on Web surfing. Those are among the criticisms being aimed at the FBI as it tries to update a key surveillance law.

With its proposed amendment, is the Obama administration merely clarifying a statute or expanding it? Only time and a suddenly on guard Congress will tell.

Federal law requires communications providers to produce records in counterintelligence investigations to the FBI, which doesn’t need a judge’s approval and court order to get them.

They can be obtained merely with the signature of a special agent in charge of any FBI field office and there is no need even for a suspicion of wrongdoing, merely that the records would be relevant in a counterintelligence or counterterrorism investigation. The person whose records the government wants doesn’t even need to be a suspect.

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FBI access to e-mail and Web records raises fears

Has anyone ever heard of Carnivore? The Carnivore Program?

Carnivore was a system implemented by the Federal Bureau of Investigation that was designed to monitor email and electronic communications. It used a customizable packet sniffer that can monitor all of a target user’s Internet traffic. Carnivore was implemented during the Clinton administration with the approval of the Attorney General.

The Carnivore program was canceled, and replaced with improved commercial software such as NarusInsight. Carnivore (software)

Well, it’s a lot like that, only more intrusive and a lot less detectable. New and improved, that’s what it’s all about. Bigger, better, faster, more intrusive information gathering at it’s best.

The bureau’s use of these so-called national security letters to gather information has a checkered history.

The bureau engaged in widespread and serious misuse of its authority to issue the letters, illegally collecting data from Americans and foreigners, the Justice Department’s inspector general concluded in 2007. The bureau issued 192,499 national security letter requests from 2003 to 2006.

If the FBI wants to collect data, if that data is pertinent to an investigation, go for it, but get a warrant and then collect your case information the old fashioned way, get OFF of your dead ass and get out in the field and do some old fashioned *leg work*. That’s a lot of what has to happen in most investigations, but web records are another matter entirely. A letter that states that it’s a matter of national security and voila, some geek at the FBI is in your computer, eating you cookies. :?

A key Democrat on Capitol Hill, Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Patrick Leahy of Vermont, wants a timeout.

The administration’s proposal to change the Electronic Communications Privacy Act “raises serious privacy and civil liberties concerns,” Leahy said Thursday in a statement.

“While the government should have the tools that it needs to keep us safe, American citizens should also have protections against improper intrusions into their private electronic communications and online transactions,” said Leahy, who plans hearings in the fall on this and other issues involving the law.

I don’t care if he is a Democrat, Leahy is correct in his every word in this regard. There are 2 key words here that I have to point out though; American Citizens.

We, the American citizen, DO have a right to privacy. It’s not American citizens that are invading this nation, it’s not American citizens that flew the planes on 9-11. We have dangers in this nation that need to be addressed and investigated, but to have a blanket ability to access ALL of ANY Americans files and computer records does, at least in my mind, open the door to a lot of abuse of those privileges by those in a position of authority.

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FBI delves into DMV photos in search for fugitives

October 13th, 2009 . by TexasFred

FBI delves into DMV photos in search for fugitives

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – In its search for fugitives, the FBI has begun using facial-recognition technology on millions of motorists, comparing driver’s license photos with pictures of convicts in a high-tech analysis of chin widths and nose sizes.

The project in North Carolina has already helped nab at least one suspect. Agents are eager to look for more criminals and possibly to expand the effort nationwide. But privacy advocates worry that the method allows authorities to track people who have done nothing wrong.

“Everybody’s participating, essentially, in a virtual lineup by getting a driver’s license,” said Christopher Calabrese, an attorney who focuses on privacy issues at the American Civil Liberties Union.

Earlier this year, investigators learned that a double-homicide suspect named Rodolfo Corrales had moved to North Carolina. The FBI took a 1991 booking photo from California and compared it with 30 million photos stored by the motor vehicle agency in Raleigh.

In seconds, the search returned dozens of drivers who resembled Corrales, and an FBI analyst reviewed a gallery of images before zeroing in on a man who called himself Jose Solis.

Full Story Here:
FBI delves into DMV photos in search for fugitives

There are a lot of programs that are good for the USA, if administered correctly, and not allowed to fall off into the realm of intrusiveness. Identifying the bad guys is always a good thing, and we see it used on TV all the time as the guys on NCIS and NCIS Los Angeles nail the terror suspects and those evil murderers with facial recognition software.

Using the facial recognition technology to scan all the DMV records in the USA may very well be a good thing, and one that could turn up the BAD GUYS. But suppose it’s used, and abused? What then?

Carnivore was a system implemented by the Federal Bureau of Investigation that was designed to monitor email and electronic communications. It used a customizable packet sniffer that can monitor all of a target user’s Internet traffic. Carnivore was implemented during the Clinton administration with the approval of the Attorney General.

The Carnivore system was a Microsoft Windows-based workstation with packet-sniffing software and a removable disk drive. This computer must be physically installed at an Internet service provider (ISP) or other location where it can “sniff” traffic on a LAN segment to look for email messages in transit. The technology itself was not highly advanced — it used a standard packet sniffer and straightforward filtering. The critical components of the operation were the filtering criteria. To accurately match the appropriate subject, an elaborate content model was developed.

The Carnivore system could be installed on a system either through the cooperation of the system owner, or by use of a court order. Once in place, the system was restricted by U.S. Federal law to only monitor specific persons. Under the current regulations, publicly acknowledged government personnel are required to get a warrant or court order naming specific people or email addresses that may be monitored.

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