The wheels of justice advanced a click in the effort of privacy and civil rights groups to get access to details of the FBI's Carnivore ubersnooping system. The press all talked to David Sobel, a lawyer for the Electronic Privacy Information Center, and Sobel's take on the situation shaped the coverage. At least four major outlets carried the Associated Press story; Newsbytes ran a bylined story.
The Justice Department is responding slowly to EPIC's Freedom of Information Act request for Carnivore information, including source code. A federal judge had given Justice until yesterday to say when it would comply with the request. The department's reply: We found 3,000 documents, and you'll get some of them in 45 days. And then another chunk 45 days after that. And then ... Both Newsbytes and the AP ran Sobel's reply that at this rate it could take years to get Carnivore information to the public.
The department had protested that this FOIA request is complicated by the need to check with commercial suppliers before releasing proprietary information. The AP reported that Sobel plans to go back to court. "We will point out to the court that Dec. 1 is the date their review is to be completed. If they can pull these documents together for their expert panel, they can pull them together for the FOIA process."
The press disagreed over the composition of the review panel alluded to by Sobel. Reuters said the Justice Department will select one university to do an independent review of Carnivore. Newsbytes said the DOJ is "in the process of recruiting experts from among several universities." The AP said Carnivore "will be reviewed by an external team assembled by a major university and by an internal team." - Keith Dawson
FBI Has 3,000 Carnivore Documents (AP)
The Meat of 'Carnivore' (Reuters)
DOJ Offers Timetable for Release of Carnivore Docs