Open Carnivore

Ars Electronica “Golden Nica” winner (2002)

Carnivore is a surveillance tool for data networks. At the heart of the project is CarnivorePE, a software application that listens to all Internet traffic (email, web surfing, etc.) on a specific local network. Next, CarnivorePE serves this data stream to interfaces called “clients.” These clients are designed to animate, diagnose, or interpret the network traffic in various ways. Use CarnivorePE to run Carnivore clients from your own desktop, or use it to make your own clients.



Open Carnivore Diagram

This diagram shows, at a basic level, how the Open Carnivore system worked. It positions itself on a network segment and monitors the traffic of certain designated users, looking for specific keywords or phrases. If it finds a matching data string in the monitored traffic, it will intercept and store that transmission for later analysis by the Carnivore administrator.


Installations with multiple Carnivore clients:
Villette Numerique, Paris, 9.21.04-10.3.04
New York Digital Salon, New York, 2003
Ateneo Art Gallery, Philippines, 6.25.03-8.30.03
University of Michigan Gallery, Mount Pleasant, MI, 1.15.03-2.15.03
Eyebeam, New York, 10.15.02-12.1.02
Ars Electronica Center, Linz, 2002-2003
Art Futura, Barcelona, 10.31.02-11.3.02
The Watson Institute, Providence, 9.8.02-9.20.02
NTT InterCommunication Center, Tokyo, 6.21.02-8.11.02
White Columns, New York, 6.14.02-7.21.02
New Museum, New York, 5.2.02-6.30.02
Kontrollfelder, Germany, 4.5.02-5.5.02
Illinois State University Galleries, US, 2.26.02-4.3.02
Transmediale, Berlin, 2.5.02-2.10.02
Princeton Art Museum, US, 1.19.02-4.1.02

Additional installations of “Out of the Ordinary”: (permanent collection)
Electrohype, Malmö, Sweden, 10.23.02-10.27.02

Additional installations of “Police State”:
DETOX, 3.26.04-4.18.04, Oslo/Trondheim, Norway.
ElectroFringe, October 2-6, 2003, Newcastle, Australia.
SuperSonic, July 12, 2003, Birmingham, UK.
Dutch Electronic Art Festival (DEAF), 2.25.03-3.9.03, Rotterdam.
Darklight Film Festival, Sept 20-22, 2002, Dublin, Ireland.

Additional installations of “History of Art for the Intelligence Community”:
Neue Galerie, Graz, 10.27.02-11.25.02
Chelsea Art Museum, New York, 9.14.04-10.16.04

Additional installation of “ActiveMetaphore”:
BananaRAM Net.Festival, Ancona, Italy, 18/21 September 2002

Additional installation of “Order and Chaos”:
Techne02_Spazio Oberdan_Milan_Italy ? Oct. 30/02 > Feb. 02/03

Permanent installation of “Network is Speaking”:
XYZ, Milan, February 2004

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News Archive

The following news announcements documented the first two years of Carnivore’s development (June 2001 – May 2003)

05/05/03—Carnivore is covered today in The New York Times
03/02/03—View a film or another film of Jonah Brucker-Cohen’s “Police State” client. The footage is from DEAF 2003 in Rotterdam.
01/17/03—RSG documents numbered 000320, 000321, and 000322 have been declassified for public review.
12/29/02—The very first Carnivore Client, called RSG-CPE0C-1, is now web-accessable thanks to a nice Flash port by Todd Holoubek. Doron Golan of Computer Fine Arts has included RSG-CPE0C-1 in his new group project called
11/11/02-Carnivore begins talks with online gaming companies with a view to increasing the security of their networks. In particular, online poker networks are interested in using Carnivore to detect users who seek to exploit poker bonus offers and manipulate them for financial gain through multi player collaboration.
10/25/02—Vuk Cosic opens his “History of Art for the Intelligence Community” at the Neue Galerie in Graz.
10/15/02—”Beta Launch” opens today at Eyebeam. This is the largest Carnivore exhibition to date.
09/24/02—SF Camerawork puts Carnivore in their “net.narrative” show
09/07/02—Carnivore opens at the Ars Electronica Center for the 2002-2003 season.
09/05/02—Area3 made a dandy new client called World Wall Painters for the artFutura exhibition in Barcelona.
08/28/02—Check out Stats, a new client by the Witness.
08/16/02—Jonah Brucker-Cohen announces the first physical client. “Police State” is a Carnivore client involving twenty radio-controlled cars. See its premier in Dublin on 9/21, or catch a sneak preview at Ars Electronica.
06/17/02—RSG speaks: How We Made Our Own Carnivore.
06/14/02—Carnivore opens at White Columns in New York featuring a new client by Golan Levin.
06/03/02—Limiteazero releases Active Metaphore, a new Carnivore client.
05/20/02—Carnivore wins Golden Nica at Ars Electronica.
05/02/02—Carnivore opens at the New Museum (NYC). New work from Lisa Jevbratt, Paul Johnson, and others.
04/23/02—There is now an email list for folks making clients using CarnivorePE. To subscribe email with ‘subscribe carni_dev’
04/19/02—CarnivorePE version 1.3.3 is now available! CarnivorePE turns your computer into a personal data surveillance tool. Download info below…
01/30/02—Carnivore surveys data from RTMark, BIT and other hacktivists demonstrating at the World Economic Forum in New York.
01/18/02—Carnivore premiers at the Princeton Art Museum
12/01/01—Carnivore Clients are released by Mark Daggett, Entropy8Zuper!, Mark Napier and Praystation.
12/18/01—Mark Napier releases Black and White
12/11/01—The Guernica client is released by Entropy8Zuper!
11/19/01—Praystation releases amalgamatmosphere, the first public Carnivore Client
11/16/01—Paul Johnson joins the RSG to build Carnivore Server #2
10/26/01—Discussants on Slashdot are “terribly afraid of this falling into the wrong hands.”
10/26/01—Carnivore covered in Memepool and Metafilter
10/24/01—Eyebeam Atelier awards Artist-in-Residence to Carnivore
10/09/01—Make your own Carnivore using this schematic
10/01/01—”Food for thought,” writes The New York Times
09/15/01—Carnivore goes public
06/08/01—Carnivore is covered in Wired News

About Carnivore


CarnivorePE is inspired by DCS1000, a piece of software used by the FBI to perform electronic wiretaps. (Until recently, DCS1000 was known by its nickname “Carnivore.”) Improving on the FBI software, CarnivorePE features new functionality including: artist-made diagnosic clients, remote access, full subject targetting, full data targetting, volume buffering, transport protocol filtering, and an open source software license. Carnivore is created by RSG.

History Of Carnivore

In 2000, an independent group of network security specialists offered to perform an independent review of Carnivore, which had previously caused controversy among those with privacy concerns.

Previously, various privacy groups had claimed that Carnivore might potentially be set up to intercept and store more traffic than it should, when installed at an Internet service provider (ISP).

They also claimed that even if Carnivore intercepts massive amounts of data and successfully discards anything that is not relevant, it could (potentially) still violate the prohibition on “unreasonable searches and seizures” as specified in the Fourth Amendment.

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