The following article was prepared by Mike Taylor, C.P.M. for distribution to NAPM affiliate newsletters. 

August 2000


 Recent news has it that many people are concerned about the FBI internet surveillance program they call carnivore. Did it wake you up? Has it caused you to reconsider you position on E-Commerce ( I hope not). I suspect, many people who havenít been following the e-commerce band wagon are alarmed and shocked and will use this as an excuse to delay their jump into the sea of  ďEĒ.

 However, as we all should know:

1-     Company e-mail belongs to the company and, as Bill Gates found out, can and will, be used against you in court.

2-     E-mail and internet traffic passes through dozens of servers on its way to your computer. Message packets can be intercepted, downloaded and stored in many locations.

3-     Smart hackers can find you if they try hard enough.


So what? Has this stopped us from ordering on line? No, because:

1-     Itís a darn difficult job to track just one personís messages and there needs to be a better reason than just to find out how many pencils were ordered today.

2-     Most commercial web sites use encryptions tools which make the transmittal of sensitive information (like credit card numbers) much safer.

3-      Personal encryption software, like Pretty Good Privacy works, is inexpensive and has been available for many years.

4-     Buyers who are concerned about security have planned ahead by writing a good Trading Partner  Agreement with the supplier that includes a security plan.

5- We have used the tools available to evaluate and mitigate the risks


Has the security concern stopped us from moving ahead?

Only those who want to use it as an excuse to do nothing. 

Has Carnivore explored strange new ground? 

            Wrong again.  This is not a new subject. 


When your friends get to ranting about Carnivore, here are a few more facts and links to help make the discussion more interesting.

 The Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) hosted a recent gathering at which the program was unveiled.  Visit the TIA web site for more information.Surveillance Technology


The FBI description of Carnivore no longer is posted on the FBI web site (August 2006). Here is a link to the current FBI electronic surveillance program

But this wasnít the first time that the subject of electronic surveillance was discussed.  Here in an excerpt of a letter sent to the TIA industry in March

The purpose of this letter is to invite your organization to contribute to a Joint Experts' Meeting (JEM) to be convened on May 3-5, 2000, under the auspices of the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA). The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) invited TIA to report to it by September 30, 2000 regarding certain technical and privacy concerns in packet-mode communications associated with lawfully authorized electronic surveillance under the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA).

So what is CALEA?  Here is a summary from the TIA web site.

Summary: "CALEA was passed in 1994 in response to rapid advances in telecommunications technology, such as the implementation of digital technology and wireless services, that have threatened the ability of law enforcement officials to conduct authorized electronic surveillance. CALEA requires telecommunications carriers to modify their equipment, facilities, and services to ensure that they are able to comply with authorized electronic surveillance..." FCC CALEA time-line and actions.

Take a look at the following document to see the standard that TIA set up to address the CALEA.  J-STD-025

For more information about CALEA, check out the FCC web site at:


Bottom Line:

Iím generally not a fan of big government and donít like the idea that big brother is watching. However, I donít like criminals either and if I have to pick a side, it wouldnít be

too hard. As for E-Commerce, Iím taking reasonable precautions and moving ahead. I hope you do too.     


MLTWEB is assembled and maintained by Michael L. Taylor, C.P.M. 
Materials and articles prepared by Mike may be shared for purchasing education provided that this source is cited and no fee is charged. The rights for any other use are withheld.
Copyright;  Michael L. Taylor, C.P.M.
Last Updated: 10/17/2014