FBI Drops Web Surveillance System

A computer system being produced by the FBI to read e-mails and other online communications has been dropped. Feds are instead turning to commercial software to eavesdrop on traffic during investigations into suspected criminals, terrorists and spies, AP reports.

It's also increasingly turning to ISPs to target customers with wiretaps on its behalf. The FBI said it couldn't reveal how much had been spent on its custom-built software it no longer uses. However, experts suggested the system - known as carnivore - was likely to have cost anywhere between $6-15m. Eight net wiretaps were conducted in the fiscal 2003 year, and five in the year before - but none used Carnivore. It's understood the software was used a total of 25 times between 1998 and 2000.

FBI spokesman Paul Bresson said commercial software was less expensive and had improved in its ability to copy e-mails and other communications. "We see the value in the commercially available software; we're using it more now and we're asking the internet service providers that have the capabilities to collect data in compliance with court orders," he added.

View: AP Coverage

View: FBI | EPIC Carnivore coverage

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