Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Full-Pipe Surveillance, Carnivore eat your heart out

It has recently been revealed that the FBI is now monitoring wide swaths of the Internet using a method referred to as full-pipe surveillance.
The technique came to light at the Search & Seizure in the Digital Age symposium held at Stanford University's law school on Friday. Ohm, who is now a law professor at the University of Colorado at Boulder, and Richard Downing, a CCIPS assistant deputy chief, discussed it during the symposium.

In a telephone conversation afterward, Ohm said that full-pipe recording has become federal agents' default method for Internet surveillance. "You collect wherever you can on the (network) segment," he said. "If it happens to be the segment that has a lot of IP addresses, you don't throw away the other IP addresses. You do that after the fact."

"You intercept first and you use whatever filtering, data mining to get at the information about the person you're trying to monitor," he added.

On Monday, a Justice Department representative would not immediately answer questions about this kind of surveillance technique.

"What they're doing is even worse than Carnivore," said Kevin Bankston, a staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation who attended the Stanford event. "What they're doing is intercepting everyone and then choosing their targets." |C-Net|

I've blogged previously about Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez suggesting Data Retention should be used to stop child predators or prevent terrorism.

However, as I pointed out last June, data retention doesn't prevent any crimes, it is a tool for following the electronic trail of criminals after they've committed the crimes, but it doesn't serve to prevent crimes.

The revelation of full-pipe surveillance indicates that this administration is forging ahead with their citizen surveillance plans without any explicit congressional authorization or any significant societal debate.

I won't go so far as to say what's been done is criminal...but I do think it's poor public policy and shows tremendous disrespect for the Constitution and its system of balance of powers.

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