- The Washington Times - Friday, August 11, 2000

The Justice Department plans to hire and give "total access" to a major university for an independent analysis of the FBI's "Carnivore" e-mail surveillance system, Attorney General Janet Reno said Thursday.
"What we are doing is reaching out to major universities to try to retain such a university with expertise in the area to review the Carnivore system and provide a report on the findings," she said during her weekly press briefing.
"The university review team will have total access to any information they need to conduct their review," she said, adding that the team's findings will be made available to "interested parties" as well as the public.
The Carnivore software program allows the FBI to scan a subject's e-mail messages for certain addresses. It does not read the message's content, only the sender's and recipient's addresses. But privacy advocates and members of Congress in recent weeks have criticized the computer program, saying it can be used to scan private citizens' e-mail without restrictions.
FBI officials have said the program is necessary to help them keep up with sophisticated, technology-savvy criminals. Agents can use the program only when they receive a court order; to access individuals' e-mail otherwise would be illegal.
The appointment of a university review team is an attempt by the department to lessen concerns about the Carnivore program.
Miss Reno said the review team's report, as well as comments from other interested parties, will be given to a Justice Department panel including members of the chief science and technology office, the chief privacy officer, representatives of the department's Criminal Division, and an assistant director of the FBI Laboratory Division.
"The department's review panel recommendation will be forwarded to me for my review and approval, and I think this will be an effective way to proceed in this issue," she said, adding that she is hopeful the process can be completed "quickly."
"But, as you know, I sometimes get frustrated in those hopes," she said.
The department's chief science and technology officer is Donald Prosnitz, who formerly served as a physicist at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California. Other panel members will be Assistant Attorney General Steve Colgate, who will chair the panel; FBI Assistant Director Donald Kerr, a nuclear physicist who heads the FBI laboratory; Ed Dumont, the Justice Department's chief privacy officer; and a senior official from the department's Criminal Division.
Mr. Colgate believes the selection of a university to do the work could be made in the next 10 days. He also said final recommendations from the university, once selected, and from the panel might reach the attorney general by December.
As many as nine universities, including the University of California at San Diego, are under consideration.

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