URGENT ACTION ITEM! FROM THE LIBERTARIAN PARTY
Watergate Office Building
2600 Virginia Avenue, NW, Suite 100
Washington DC 20037
Phone: (202) 333-0008 Ext. 222
For information about the party: (800) ELECT-US
July 22, 2000
Congress agrees to hold hearing on Monday
in response to public outrage over FBI's e-mail spy scheme
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, the Libertarian Party has 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 *IMMEDIATELY* take the action
below. Then forward this web address 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 -- but with your help we can change that. Keep in mind that the Libertarian Party kicked off its 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"
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!