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Regarding Carnivore: Eat Me

Matt Sedik

So the FBI unveils a new toy and everyone and their mother runs screaming for the hills. Somehow a grave injustice is being done because some plastic pocket-protectored, horn-rimmed numb-nuts at the Project Naming Department tucked away deep in the heart of FBI headquarters at Langley decided it would be cool to label this new email sniffer they whipped up some wicked name. He only had to look as far as the hunting bow section of the Sportsman Guide laying around the office (buried under a stack of Guns & Ammo, Sports Illustrated and Barely Legal mags).

Look, let's get real folks... unless you've somehow managed to get this far without a Social Security Number, bank account, credit cards, driver's license or a 10 Deal Steal card from the Togo's down the street, chances are someone somewhere knows not only your shoe size and nickname in highscool, but also the fact you actually paid to see a Pauly Shore movie once and have the first three White Lion albums on cassette (of course the second one, Pride, is by far their best work to date).

I have about as much faith in privacy these days as I have seeing George W. Bush show up unannounced at the nearest soup kitchen, rolling up his sleeves & trying to do something real for his sorry Republican ass.

So the Feds fucked up in the naming department, c'mon, can you really blame them? They've been infected by the onslaught of Hollywood techno-shlock and thought having cool code names was a requirement. Besides, it probably gave those stuffed shirts in the execusphere a chubby when they knew they had this bad ass ace of spades floating at the bottom of the deck waiting to be slipped into play. The only problem is they announced its existence to the world.

I don't have a problem with Carnivore. If it lives up to its intended purpose and tracks down the bad guys, then good. But really, do you think the guys who programmed this beast, or their Walker, Texas Ranger-loving supervisors, are going to actually open up the system & let everyone peek inside? Give me a break. Some stones are better left unturned. Some secrets are meant to stay just that, secrets. Do you think the Air Force is itching to share the Stealth bomber's secret recipe because we have a right to know? Dream on.

So my local supermarket tracks what I buy. Every once in a while I throw them off by filling a cart with a case of Redhook, condoms, Noxema and summer squash.

And then there's this safe open source version, Herbivore or something. Please. Go back to hating Metallica because they're opposed to Napster, you tree hugging hippies. If there's anyone I want writing software to spy on me, it's my government, thankyouverymuch.

Stop worrying about Carnivore. Hey, I'll go one better: let me throw the FBI a few of my tax dollars come April so they can add a feature where I can get the home numbers of the spam/free offer/lose weight fast/come spank my naughty bottom freaks that seem to infest my InBox. Until then, let these guys do their job. You want something to worry about: Ricky Martin is still making videos. Be afraid. Be very afraid.