RE: [ISN] Privacy Group Pushes For Hearings on ECHELON

From: mea culpa (jerichoat_private)
Date: Mon Nov 16 1998 - 00:02:22 PST

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    Reply From: "Colman, Clem" <Clem.Colmanat_private>
    >part in this encroachment of privacy into the lives of the people of the
    >world by collecting virtually all fax transmissions, e-mails, and phone
    >calls. Not even cellular phone calls escape the grasp of the Echelon
    Whilst it may be possible, with particularly sensitive antennae etc to
    detect communications over wireless connections from a long range one
    really does wonder how this is 'sposed to work with communications which
    never leave the wire such as normal domestic phone calls which typically
    go copper-fibre-copper. 
    This leads to the conclusion that the author seriously expects us to
    believe that telecommunications companies have either:
    -Allowed Echelon physical access to every switch (it was *all* calls
     after all) in their network; or
    -Redirect a copy of *all* data to these "Agencies" in real time through
     their switch network.  I'd like to know what kind of bandwidth that
     means.  For the Australian facility, which must be hidden out in the
     desert somewhere basically we need to take the size of every fibre trunk
     in Australia and send a link from that location of the same size to the
     top secret facility.
    As a thought experiment it is worth entertaining the idea that it may be
    possible, at close range to determine what is travelling through fibre by
    latent RF transmissions given of by the fibre.  However, I would tend to
    think this doesn't happen with light through glass.  Needless to say that
    getting any particular conversation, when multiplexed with hundreds of
    thousands of others, would be difficult. 
    Even if it could be done the *bad people* would need to sit almost on top
    of the fibre anyway, otherwise it would quickly be lost in background
    >"Obviously, we need to have these capabilities," said Wayne Madsen
    I sincerely doubt you have them, at least to the level represented in
    this article.
    >As an example of our country's need for the system, Madsen said, "No one
    >can argue about using the system to counter terrorism. Where people will
    >have a problem is where Echelon is used for political and business
    I can, but I'm not an American, hence a non person.
    >The Echelon system gets most of its data by collecting all transmissions
    >handled by the Intelsat and Inmarsat satellites, which are responsible for
    >much of the electronic communication that takes place between countries. 
    Yes, this is possible but the transmissions are directed I believe, hence
    the spy satellites would have to shadow the real satellites to have a
    reasonable chance of intercept. 
    >Earth-bound communication is sucked up and absorbed by other spy
    >satellites that the NSA has launched into space. 
    Sucked up, what like a sponge?  
    >"It's a huge vacuum cleaner," said Madsen. 
    Oh, like a vacuum cleaner.  Of course, a vacuum cleaner would work, a
    sponge wouldn't.  Silly me.
    >Once these spy facilities collect the phone calls, e-mails, and faxes, of
    >virtually everyone on earth, the Echelon system sorts them through a kind
    >of filter system known as the Echelon dictionary.
    Is all the information sent to a central data centre for processing or
    done in a distributed manner.  I'm just wondering as it will help me
    understand in how many places we need to completely double the
    telecommunications capacity. 
    I think well intentioned journalists can do the privacy cause a great deal
    of disservice by purporting the abilities of intelligence agencies as
    larger than life.  By dealing in lies, half truths and assumptions they
    bring themselves down to the level of Big Brother. 
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