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A Magic Lantern For The Fbi

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Erika Meyer

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User since: 06 Apr 2000

Articles written: 13

According to several news sources, the US Federal Bureau of Investigation intends to use keystroke-logging-enabled Trojan horses for their terrorist spy-work.

An "anonymous source" interviewed for an MSNBC article, says the FBI's worm is "one of a series of enhancements currently being developed for the FBI's Carnivore project... under the umbrella project name of Cyber Knight."

While some U.S. anti-virus software makers have said they will cooperate with the FBI and avoid detecting Magic Lantern, Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos, questioned the precedent such actions set, according to an article in The Register.

This bit of news should be of interest to anyone who sends email or publishes on the web. My question is, on what basis does the FBI decide to target an individual for computer espionage?

As someone who uses email frequently, including participating in publicly-archived mailing lists (such as's), and as someone who occasionally writes opinion pieces which are published on the web, I find these moves, coupled with the "enhanced surveillance procedures" of October's Patriot Act, quite troubling. Even more troubling is that the word "terrorism" appears to have no generally agreed-upon definition (Wired, 3 December 01).

With so many uncertainties, I find myself wondering upon which grounds the FBI will choose to target an individual or group for computer espionage.

References and Further Reading:

News and Commentary:


Carnivore FIOA Documents:

Erika Meyer lives in Portland, Oregon, USA.

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