Open Sourcing may be a solution, depending on how the problem is defined.
The issue the commitee was examining was not whether the Feds should be allowed to read your mail -- that, with whatever precautions are taken with phone taps, was taken for granted -- but whether Carnivore would read only your mail and not, for instance, mine. The nice men from the FBI said that of course it doesn't, and they wouldn't, and they couldn't, and anyway they'd be in big trouble if they did.
(I'm assuming, BTW, that although this keeps being described as an email issue it's obvious to everybody that you don't need hardware to read email and that most ISP's, if presented with a court order, would simply cc everything from the server to the G-men. Clearly this box is intended to read web pages, ftp, etc.)
Opening the code would at least allow people to check whether or not the box is diverting and cataloging all traffic (look for comments like "/* This'll screw all those pinko hippies!! */") or just the stuff they're legally authorized to get.
Mind you, the FBI response that there are some license issues has some validity -- they appear to have built this thing on top of a commercial product.
[ Parent ]