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FBI taps ISPs in hunt for attackers

The hunt for suspects in Tuesday's terrorist attacks has moved online.

On Wednesday, both America Online and EarthLink acknowledged that they are working with the FBI to turn over specific information that may be relevant to the case.

"We are cooperating with them in this ongoing investigation," said Nicholas Graham, spokesman for Dulles, Va.-based AOL, a division of AOL Time Warner. Although Graham wouldn't provide details, he denied reports that the company had agreed to install a Carnivore surveillance system.

"We are able to provide them with information on an immediate basis," he said, stressing that such an ability made Carnivore unnecessary. The FBI developed Carnivore, now renamed DCS1000, to allow it to wiretap communications that go through Internet service providers.

EarthLink's vice president of communications, Dan Greenfield, confirmed that the Atlanta-based ISP was served with a warrant under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) to turn over information.

FISA limits the ability of intelligence and law enforcement agencies--essentially the FBI, the CIA and the military information-gathering National Security Agency--from spying on the American public. The warrant covers investigations relating to the leakage of information to a foreign government and requires less burden of proof than a warrant in a criminal case. The directors of the FBI and the CIA as well as the secretaries of state and defense are the only government officials allowed to request a FISA warrant.

Calling the warrant "equivalent to a wiretap," Greenfield also denied that the company had let the FBI install a Carnivore system.

"We are not installing any equipment," he said. "We are cooperating with a very specific request. There are concerns from our customers that we are giving arbitrary access to our network, and we are not."

Most of the clues that have turned up so far in the hunt for suspects have been dug up through typical investigative footwork, not high-tech sleuthing.

News Source: ZDnet News

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