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The Justice Department is telling U.S. prosecutors how to make the most of the government’s surveillance powers under new anti-terrorism laws, describing when they can search a person’s home secretly, trace Internet e-mail or seize telephone voice messages. But with some of the most contentious provisions of the new laws, signed last week by President Bush, Justice lawyers urged federal prosecutors to call them by phone for additional help or wait for further guidelines. In one mild concession to privacy concerns, FBI and Justice officials said Monday they will not change the government’s “Carnivore” Internet surveillance technology to collect more personal data than was gathered previously, except in limited cases. Still, an expert hired by the Justice Department to review the technology expressed disappointment Monday that investigators are being given more latitude to use Carnivore even though problems identified in last year’s oversight study remain unresolved. “Some of these problems need to be fixed,” said Henry Perritt Jr., head of the DOJ’s own review panel and dean of the Chicago-Kent College of Law. Legal experts generally agree that the new anti-terrorism laws allow the FBI to use Carnivore, renamed the “DCS-1000,” to more broadly monitor a person’s Web surfing with only perfunctory approval by a judge. “Individual circumstances may justify a broader filter setting (for Carnivore) … but even those would be authorized by the Department of Justice,” said Thomas Gregory Motta, the FBI assistant general counsel. “We’re not waiting for the statute to pass so we can suddenly change all the filter settings,” said a Justice official, who asked not to be identified. Another Justice official, also speaking on condition of anonymity, said government lawyers “take it upon ourselves to interpret the statutes in ways we think are wise and will stand the test of time, and we’ll have to see how this plays itself out.” The Justice Department e-mailed more than 30 printed pages of new legal rules over the weekend to the country’s most cybersavvy federal prosecutors. The guidelines, parts of which were written in arcane legal language, describe new powers permitting the FBI and police to seize voice messages. And they describe legal changes cracking down on computer hackers, who in some cases are deemed “terrorists” under the new law. The Justice Department also released secret new guidelines for tracking spies and foreign terrorists under a powerful 1978 anti-espionage law, but those new rules were classified. Critics said that perhaps most surprising was what the Justice Department didn’t tell prosecutors: that lawmakers who wrote the statute do not believe the government should be allowed to record some types of Web searches without a wiretap order from a judge. “They’re doing that on purpose so that prosecutors interpret it as broadly as they can,” charged Rep. Bob Barr, R-Ga., a member of the House Judiciary Committee, which helped write the law. “They want to get as much information as they can, and I suspect they want to get a lot more information than they intended.” The Justice guidelines don’t specify which Web addresses can be recorded legally under so-called “pen register” orders, though the House Judiciary Committee deemed off-limits any Internet addresses “specifying Web search terms or the name of a requested file or article.” Outside expert Perritt, who headed Justice’s oversight study, said allowing Carnivore to record Web addresses without wiretap orders is problematic, because they disclose which Internet sites a person visits. “The (DOJ) guidelines don’t go far enough” in specifying what cannot be collected, he said. Privacy experts warned that some Internet addresses can identify books a person reads or topics that someone researches. The new Justice guidelines merely tell prosecutors to call them about what might be permitted. “They don’t even try to resolve that question here,” said James Dempsey, a lawyer with the Center for Democracy and Technology, a Washington civil liberties group. “They say, call us on the phone and we’ll try to explain what’s content and what isn’t.” “They don’t seem to want to go on record,” agreed David Sobel, a lawyer with the Electronic Privacy Information Center, another civil liberties group. “There should have been specific language that took into account the technical issues.” The government also suggested in its new rules that under some conditions authorities can secretly search a house without telling the homeowner for up to three months. Justice lawyers acknowledged that these secret searches should be “an infrequent exception” to traditional searches, where homeowners are notified immediately. They also told prosecutors to expect additional guidance in coming weeks, and they noted that some courts have required notice of a search after as little as seven days, not 90 days. “I don’t think by any reasonable interpretation is 90 days considered reasonable,” Barr said. Copyright 2001 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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