12
Apr
2005

Big Brother - The Echelon System

The Echelon System

<excerpted>

Echelon is the term popularly used for an automated, global, quasi-total surveillance system operated by the intelligence agencies in five nations: the United States (NSA), the United Kingdom (GCHQ), Canada (CSE), Australia (DSD) and New Zealand (GCSB). Echelon intercepts huge amounts of ordinary phone calls, e-mail messages, Internet downloads, satellite transmissions, etc., gathering all of these transmissions indiscriminately and distilling the information that is most heavily desired through artificial intelligence programs. Some sources have claimed that Echelon sifts through an estimated 90 percent of all traffic that flows through the Internet. The United States government has gone to extreme lengths to keep Echelon a secret, even after the governments of Australia and New Zealand admitted to its existence. Echelon is a highly classified operation, which is conducted with little or no oversight by national parliaments or courts, so there is no way to know how the information is used, and whether that use is lawful or not. Significant privacy concerns have been raised by Congress and many other governments and institutions.

//www.strange-loops.com/freeechelon.html

Echelon is a global surveillance network set up in Cold War days to provide the US goverment with intelligence data about Russia. One of the main contractors is Raytheon. Lockheed Martin has been involved in writing software for it. Since then it has expanded into a general listening facility, an electronic vacuum cleaner, sucking up the world's telephone conversations. Information about it's existence has been reluctantly revealed, prompted by scandals such as the recordings of Princess Diana's telephone calls by the NSA. The calls are recorded by geo-stationary spy satellites and listening stations, such as the UK's Menwith Hill, which combine satellite-intercepted calls and trunk landline intercepts and forward them on to centres, such as the US' Fort Meade, where supercomputers work on the recordings in real time.

//www.techworld.com/storage/news/index.cfm?NewsID=2430


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