Essay on Internet Privacy - Carnivore, and the Power Of FBI Surveillance

Essay on Internet Privacy - Carnivore, and the Power Of FBI Surveillance

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Carnivore: The Power Of FBI Surveillance

    Abstract:  This paper provides an analysis of the privacy issues associated with governmental Internet surveillance, with a focus on the recently disclosed FBI tool known as Carnivore. It concludes that, while some system of surveillance is necessary, more mechanisms to prevent abuse of privacy must exist.


Communication surveillance has been a controversial issue in the US since the 1920's, when the Supreme Court deemed unwarranted wiretaps legitimate in the case of Olmstead v United States. Since telephone wires ran over public grounds, and the property of Olmstead was not physically violated, the wiretap was upheld as lawful. However, the Supreme Court overturned this ruling in 1967 in the landmark case of Katz v United States. On the basis of the fourth amendment, the court established that individuals have the right to privacy of communication, and that wiretapping is unconstitutional unless it is authorized by a search warrant. [Bowyer, 142-143] Since then, the right to communication privacy has become accepted as an integral facet of the American deontological code of ethics. The FBI has made an at least perfunctory effort to respect the public's demand for Internet privacy with its new Internet surveillance system, Carnivore. However, the current implementation of Carnivore unnecessarily jeopardizes the privacy of innocent individuals.


There is considerable utilitarian value in extending privacy rights to the Internet. The fear that communication is being monitored by a third party inevitably leads to inefficiency, because individuals feel a need to find loopholes in the surveillance. For instance, if the public does not feel comfortable with communica...

... middle of paper ...

... best way to establish this balance of power is by requiring the FBI to have the ISP's perform the searches themselves.




Works Cited

Kevin W. Bowyer. "Ethics And Computing". IEEE Press, New York. 2001. (142-143).


Patrick Ross. September 2000


Patrick Riley. Fox News. July 11th, 2000


Donald M. Kerr. FBI. September 6th, 2000


IITRI. November 17th, 2000.


Thomas C. Greene. The Register December 19th, 2000


Chris Oakes. Wired News.,1283,37470,00.html July 12th, 2000

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