What is Carnivore?
Carnivore is a software surveillance system that tracks personal internet usage. The FBI developed the Carnivore Surveillance System to track the internet usage of suspected criminals, as well as anyone who comes in contact with someone who is being monitored. Carnivore analyzes electronic information through local area networks (LAN). The system was a Microsoft Windows workstation that used strong filtering components using complex content model development.
The FBI replaced the Carnivore surveillance system with NarusInsight in 2005. Warrants are required for such monitoring.
The FBI called their surveillance system Carnivore because it is a system that comes to the 'meat' of something. Because of the bad press, controversial use, and alleged abuse of the Carnivore system, the FBI has renamed it DCS1000. In 2005, the FBI discontinued Carnivore in favor of commercial surveillance software developed by Narus.
Carnivore worked by matching an email with warrant information. This was presumably relayed to the FBI in real time. Another basic assumption was that unnecessary or outrageous electronic information was not passed on. Basic information about the date and time of email or other internet activity was also collected by Carnivore.
At the turn of the century, privacy advocates - like the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Electronic Privacy Information Center - claimed that the Carnivore surveillance system was abusive and violated the rights of Internet users. While these concerns were brought to the US House of Representatives, the only result was the change in the product name to NarusInsight.