[ISN] Worldwide spying network is revealed

From: InfoSec News (isnat_private)
Date: Sun May 27 2001 - 02:58:19 PDT

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    [Hmmm, One has to wonder how much longer we will have to wait before
    they take the wraps off that UFO's are real? :)  - WK]
    Stuart Millar, Richard Norton-Taylor and Ian Black
    Saturday May 26, 2001
    The Guardian 
    For years it has been the subject of bitter controversy, its existence
    repeatedly claimed but never officially acknowledged.  At last, the
    leaked draft of a report to be published next week by the European
    parliament removes any lingering doubt: Echelon, a shadowy, US-led
    worldwide electronic spying network, is a reality.
    Echelon is part of an Anglo-Saxon club set up by secret treaty in
    1947, whereby the US, UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, divided
    the world between them to share the product of global eavesdropping.
    Agencies from the five countries exchange intercepts using
    supercomputers to identify key words.
    The intercepts are picked up by ground stations, including the US base
    at Menwith Hill in North Yorkshire, and GCHQ's listening post at
    Morwenstow in Cornwall.
    In the cold war, eavesdropping - signals intelligence, or Sigint as it
    is known in the trade - was aimed at military and diplomatic
    communications. Helped by increasingly sophisticated computers, it has
    now switched to industrial, commercial targets - and private
    Echelon computers can store millions of records on individuals,
    intercepting faxes, phone calls, and emails.
    The MEP's report - which faced opposition from the British and
    American governments and their respective security services - was
    prompted by claims that the US was using Echelon to spy on European
    companies on behalf of American firms.
    France, deeply suspicious of Britain's uniquely close intelligence
    links with the US, seized on reports that Echelon cost Airbus
    Industrie an 8bn contract with Saudi Arabia in 1994, after the US
    intercepted communications between Riyadh and the Toulouse
    headquarters of Airbus - in which British firms hold a 20% stake.
    The MEPs admitted they had been unable to find conclusive proof of
    industrial espionage. The claim has been dismissed by all the Echelon
    governments and in a new book by an intelligence expert, James
    More disturbing, as Mr Bamford and the MEPs pointed out, was the
    threat Echelon posed to privacy. "The real issue is whether Echelon is
    doing away with individual privacy - a basic human right," he said.
    The MEPs looked at statements from former members of the intelligence
    services, who provided compelling evidence of Echelon's existence, and
    the potential scope of its activities.
    One former member of the Canadian intelligence service, the CSE,
    claimed that every day millions of emails, faxes and phone
    conversations were intercepted. The name and phone number of one
    woman, he said, was added to the CSE's list of potential terrorists
    after she used an ambiguous word in an innocent call to a friend.
    "Disembodied snippets of conversations are snatched from the ether,
    perhaps out of context, and may be misinterpreted by an analyst who
    then secretly transmits them to spy agencies and law enforcement
    offices around the world," Mr Bamford said.
    The "misleading information", he said, "is then placed in NSA's
    near-bottomless computer storage system, a system capable of storing 5
    trillion pages of text, a stack of paper 150 miles high".
    Unlike information on US citizens, which officially cannot be kept
    longer than a year, information on foreigners can he held "eternally",
    he said.
    The MEP's draft report concludes the system cannot be as extensive as
    reports have assumed. It is limited by being based on worldwide
    interception of satellite communications, which account for a small
    part of communications.
    Eavesdropping on other messages requires either tapping cables or
    intercepting radio signals, but the states involved in Echelon, the
    draft report found, had access to a limited proportion of radio and
    cable communications.
    But independent privacy groups claimed Britain, the US and their
    Echelon partners, were developing eavesdropping systems to cope with
    the explosion in communications on email and internet.
    In Britain, the government last year brought in the Regulation of
    Investigatory Powers Act, which allowed authorities to monitor email
    and internet traffic through "black boxes" placed inside service
    providers' systems. It gave police authority to order companies or
    individuals using encryption to protect their communications, to hand
    over the encryption keys. Failure to do so was punishable by a
    sentence of up to two years.
    The act has been condemned by civil liberties campaigners, but there
    are signs the authorities are keen to secure more far reaching powers
    to monitor internet traffic.
    Last week, the London-based group, Statewatch, published leaked
    documents saying the EU's 15 member states were lobbying the European
    commission to require that service providers kept all phone, fax,
    email and internet data in case they were needed in criminal
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