[Fwd: Urgent Action Item: Help Kill the Carnivore!]

From: Eliezer S. Yudkowsky (sentience@pobox.com)
Date: Sat Jul 22 2000 - 09:22:55 MDT


 

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URGENT ACTION ITEM! Congress agrees to hold hearing on Monday
in response to public outrage over FBI's e-mail spy scheme
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DefendYourPrivacy.comís successful 1999 campaign against the
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* Immediate action required: Help us Kill the Carnivore!

On July 14 we issued a press release about an FBI cybersnooping
device code-named Carnivore, which can scan millions of e-mails
per second. Because Carnivore has unlimited power to spy on
almost everyone with an e-mail account, it may be the biggest
threat to your digital privacy ever.

Almost immediately after the existence of this project was
disclosed in a July 11 Wall Street Journal article, public
outrage began to mount -- and now Congress has been pressured
into holding hearings on Carnivore.

To capitalize on Monday's hearing before a House Judiciary
Committee panel, weíve launched a campaign to "Kill the
Carnivore"!

Politicians on Capitol Hill may be planning to mollify the
public by starting an "investigation" into the system, but
that's not enough: We want to stop the Carnivore in its tracks
and kill it -- before it devours your privacy.

Please read this e-mail and *IMMEDIATELY* take the action
below. Then forward this e-mail to friends, and ask them to do
the same.

BACKGROUND: Carnivore is a hardware-software device that the
FBI secretly developed at its lab in Quantico, Va. Dubbed
Carnivore because of its ability to find "the meat" among
millions of e-mails, Carnivore scans every incoming and
outgoing e-mail message on a network looking for telltale words
or names, and saves those messages for later retrieval by law
enforcement. Carnivore can also track instant messages, visits
to websites, and Internet relay chat sessions.

The FBI admits that Carnivore will scan millions of e-mail
messages from innocent people to find a tiny number of messages
from people suspected of crimes. That's no different than if
the FBI opened everyone's mail hoping to find a letter from a
criminal, or listened in on everyone's phone calls just in case
a crime was being discussed.

Though Carnivore's existence was just publicly revealed, the
FBI has already installed the device at dozens of Internet
Service Providers (ISPs) around the country, and claims it has
used it "fewer than 50 times" so far. In many cases, the FBI
keeps the device in a locked cage on the ISP's premises, with
agents making daily visits to retrieve the captured data.

Many ISPs have refused to allow the FBI to install Carnivore,
citing concerns that the privacy of all their customers could
be violated. But earlier this year, a federal judge ruled
against one such ISP, leaving it no choice but to allow the FBI
access to its system.

Predictably, the FBI promises to limit surveillance to messages
from suspected hackers, terrorists, or drug dealers. But
considering that this is the same agency that quietly inserted
"roving telephone tap" authority into federal law and illegally
turned over confidential personnel files to the Clinton White
House, you shouldn't be expected to trust it with your
confidential e-mails.

But Carnivore is more than a threat to your ordinary e-mail
correspondence -- it also gives government bureaucrats the
ability to spy on your online banking transactions, because it
has the ability to monitor all digital communications. The
bottom line is that your privacy won't be protected as long as
Carnivore is on the loose.

At this point, no legislation to eliminate Carnivore has been
proposed. However, with your help we can change that. Keep in
mind that we kicked off our campaign to kill the FDIC's "Know
Your Customer" bank spy scheme last year before any legislation
existed. But once we informed the public about this threat to
their financial privacy, they swung into action and demanded an
immediate end to the program. Americans flooded Capitol Hill
with over 300,000 angry e-mails and phone calls, and within
weeks, Know Your Customer was withdrawn.

We believe that once Americans learn about Carnivore's
outrageous assault on their electronic privacy, they will
demand legislation to abolish it as well.

That's why we're asking you to join the "Kill the Carnivore"
campaign!

WHAT TO DO:

Call the Congressional switchboard, toll free, at
1-888-449-3511. If that number is busy try 202-225-3121 or
202-224-3121. Then ask to speak to the office of your
Congressional representative. The switchboard is open 24 hours,
and most House offices have voice mail, so please make the call
as soon as you get this message.

WHAT TO SAY:

(1) Identify yourself and let them know you are a voter in
their district. Leave your name, address, complete with ZIP
code, and phone number. Please be brief, especially if you are
leaving a message.

(2) Let them know that you're calling in response to Monday's
hearing on the FBI's Carnivore e-mail spy scheme. (The hearing
is being held by the House Judiciary Committee's subcommittee
on the Constitution.) Tell them that Carnivore poses an
immediate threat to your e-mail privacy and that you want it
abolished. Specifically, ask your representative to personally
sponsor or co-sponsor legislation to abolish the FBI's
Carnivore program now! Insist that you do *not* want an
investigation, or Congressional hearings, or a "blue ribbon"
commission -- you want to Kill the Carnivore now!

(3) Ask them to write you a letter spelling out their position
on Carnivore, and detailing what they intend to do.

One more thing: Please forward this e-mail to friends, and ask
them to call their representative, too. Thank you for your help!

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