You may have heard about Carnivore, a controversial program developed by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to give the agency access to the online/e-mail activities of suspected criminals. For many, it is eerily reminiscent of George Orwell's book "1984."

What exactly is Carnivore? Where did it come from? How does it work? What is its purpose? In this edition of HowStuffWorks, you will learn the answers to these questions and more!