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EP Motion on Echelon

By Prominairy in News
Fri Jul 06, 2001 at 06:52:25 PM EST
Tags: Politics (all tags)
Politics

     The European Parliament approved a motion for resolution (sorry, couldn't find the original source), based on the draft report "on the existence of a global system for the interception of private and commercial communications (ECHELON interception system)" this last Tuesday.


     The draft report, which actually dates to May 18, a week after the NSA, CIA and the Bush administration refused to meet an EU delegation, is available in Danish, German, Greek, English, Spanish, Finnish, French, Italian, Dutch, Portuguese and Swedish. More information can also be found on the home pages of the temporary committee on the Echelon interception system
     For those of you, who don't know what the Echelon interception system is, you can read Nicky Hager's address to the committee in April, which has some history as well as a general description of the system.
     Unlike traditional notions of spying, where we imagine one person's telephone being tapped or whatever, Echelon operates by targetting whole components of the world's telecommunications networks. It doesn't intercept one phone, it intercepts all the communications through one satellite or huge quantities of information being moved by microwave between countries. They are processing them by searching them by keywords and through the dictionary computers, it is industrial scale spying.

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Poll
How worried are you about Echelon?
o What? Who did you hear it from? Who are you? 20%
o It's quite frightening. 36%
o I can't say it bothers me much. 30%
o None of the above. 12%

Votes: 88
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o approved
o motion for resolution
o draft report
o refused to meet an EU delegation
o temporary committee on the Echelon interception system
o Nicky Hager's address to the committee
o Also by Prominairy


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EP Motion on Echelon | 19 comments (13 topical, 6 editorial, 0 hidden)
Echelon is comforting (2.37 / 16) (#1)
by kokomo on Fri Jul 06, 2001 at 04:41:58 AM EST

It's comforting to know that the US government (my government) can effectively spy on the communications of other countries. An effective spy network is vital to the security of any nation, and I'm glad mine has the biggest one out there. It's too bad that EU had to go make such a fuss about it, but there is an upside. Now the US will be motivated to build a bigger more effective system, and do a better job of keeping its existence secret.

I was told (4.00 / 3) (#14)
by Xeriar on Fri Jul 06, 2001 at 02:39:54 PM EST

that the French also have a system - they aren't complaining that we have one, but that the English one is just bigger.

----
When I'm feeling blue, I start breathing again.
[ Parent ]
Protect Yourself (4.47 / 23) (#3)
by qpt on Fri Jul 06, 2001 at 04:50:58 AM EST

Yet another reason to use strong cryptography, or at the very least, Pig Latin.

Ixnay atthay.

Boys and girls, let me be frank with you. While you have no doubt heard all sorts of methods of "safe communication" touted by the television, teachers, and your friends, the fact is, the only truly safe communication is abstinence from communication altogether. Cryptography can be cracked with supercomputers, Pig Latin can be decoded by 3rd graders, and yes, your mother can hear it when you mutter at her under your breath. With all the dangers that young people face from communication these days, it is pretty apparent why abstinence is the best choice. After all, unsafe communication can lead to broken relationships, trouble with the law, and bad grades.

In response to these dangers, I'm starting the Shut The Fuck Up Campaign. The purpose of STFU is to encourage young people to do just that - shut the fuck up. Communication is treasure best enjoyed by adults who are chained in the blissful state of matrimony. In fact, there is nothing more pleasing to God's eye than a wife's incessant nagging or a husband's drunken threats. So enjoy your youth, and rest assured, when you are ready for communication, communication will be ready for you.

Remember, for your safety and my sanity, shut the fuck up!

Domine Deus, creator coeli et terrae respice humilitatem nostram.

why just US focus? (3.64 / 17) (#4)
by Delirium on Fri Jul 06, 2001 at 05:04:56 AM EST

Why do most European countries continue to try to paint this as an EU vs. US issue, completely ignoring the fact that the United Kingdom, a member country of the EU, is also behind the Echelon system?

Well .... (3.77 / 9) (#5)
by StrontiumDog on Fri Jul 06, 2001 at 05:40:21 AM EST

  • The EU does not "completely ignore the fact that the UK" is a member of Echelon. You're going to have to prove this assertion or admit you pulled it out of your ass. As a counterexample, the European Parliament has officially warned the UK about its involvement in Echelon. EU MPs and UK civil liberties organisations have also publicly complained about the UK's involvement in Echelon.
  • There are 14 other member countries of the EU who are not part of Echelon. This pretty much puts the EU as a whole outside Echelon.
  • The EU presumably doesn't care much either way if the US spies on non-European countries, so for all intents and purposes it is a EU/US issue from their perspective.


[ Parent ]
Intelligence Collection Systems (4.00 / 7) (#6)
by Bad Harmony on Fri Jul 06, 2001 at 06:31:51 AM EST

It isn't just the UK. There is a long list of other countries, many in the EU, that run signals and communications intelligence operations.

I don't think that the members of the UKUSA group have anything to apologize for. Henry Stimson's famous quote, "Gentlemen do not read each other's mail", is as naive today as it was when he uttered it in 1929.

54º40' or Fight!
[ Parent ]

Wheeeeee! (3.78 / 19) (#7)
by Hubris Boy on Fri Jul 06, 2001 at 07:08:27 AM EST

It's Troll Time at here Kuro5hin!

This is just the sort of post that brings out all varieties of callow youth, whining Euroweenies, chest-beating Captain America types, and Greens dressed like forest elves. It accomplishes nothing, and turns K5 into /. with a different color scheme. Can you hear them coming? [Shhhh... listen]

  • "Another shameful example of American arrogance!"
  • "America first, dude! Your country sucks!"
  • "If they spent all that money on reducing greenhouse gases instead of Echelon, the world would be a better place! Fascists!"
  • "Is it Open Source?"
There's nothing new here. The gathering of signal intelligence on a massive scale has been going on for decades. The only thing that's changed is that they're just now reaching the point where they can efficiently process what's been gathered. One of the greatest problems faced by the sigint community has always been too much information. The giant electronic Hoover vacuum cleaner at Ft. Meade has always sucked in more info than the poor human analysts could process.

The historically close relationship between the American and British intelligence communities is also well established, and dates back over 60 years. Nothing new here, either.

Still, there is one thing about Echelon that I haven't seen discussed anywhere yet. Usually, the mere mention of Echelon causes people to start screeching about the United States. BUT... Echelon is (allegedly) a collaboration between the governments of the US, UK, Australia and New Zealand. So, what we have here isn't an evil American plot, but a plot to impose an evil English-speaking hegemony on an unsuspecting world.

Break into groups and discuss among yourselves.



"Three generations of imbeciles are enough." -Oliver Wendell Holmes

Bait tastes yummy ... (4.66 / 6) (#8)
by StrontiumDog on Fri Jul 06, 2001 at 07:49:01 AM EST

BUT... Echelon is (allegedly) a collaboration between the governments of the US, UK, Australia and New Zealand.
Nothing "alleged" about it. The Australian and New Zealand governments have formally admitted their involvement in Echelon, and the UK's Prime Minister Tony Blair has not denied Echelon's existence, only allegations that it was being used to spy against "UK's European partners".

You forgot Canada, by the way. Canada is also a member of Echelon.

So, what we have here isn't an evil American plot, but a plot to impose an evil English-speaking hegemony on an unsuspecting world.
It's easy to be facile, but remove the qualifier "evil" and you obtain a drily factual description of the intent and structure of Echelon. It's a spy network set up for and by all major English-speaking nations on Earth. And it's rather pointless to try and deny its existence when two members admit it exists.

Far better to make fun of the whole concept of Echelon, of course. It's funny that our governments are spying on our friends and allies, using our tax money. Tee hee. It's all good fun, naturally. Why the whining? We can't understand why you guys take that stuff so seriously, when there are more pressing issues to discuss, like privacy and air-miles, or copy-protection for hard disks. And though no-one has ever provided any shred of hard evidence to the contrary, these pesky Dutch or Danes or Swedes are probably spying on us too, so it serves them right.

Right?

When your moral high ground is threatened by the undeniably immoral behaviour of your nation's politicians what do you do? Investigate it seriously, or pooh-pooh the whole thing and hope it will go away? Or do you just want to win points on k5?

[ Parent ]

... and it's filling, too! (4.50 / 2) (#16)
by Hubris Boy on Fri Jul 06, 2001 at 08:33:01 PM EST

You forgot Canada, by the way. Canada is also a member of Echelon.
You're quite right. Canada, too. But not Quebec, please. :-)
And it's rather pointless to try and deny its existence when two members admit it exists.
Who's denying it? As I said, it's been going on for decades.
It's a spy network set up for and by all major English-speaking nations on Earth.
So? What's your point? It's not as if we're the only ones playing the game. The Bundesnachrichtendienst, Sluzhba Vnyeshney Razvedki (or whatever the KGB calls itself these days), Direction Générale de la Sécurité Extérieure... God help us, even the Belgians are doing it! So... are you upset by the fact that nations gather intelligence about each other? Or by the fact that the English-speaking countries are so much better at it than everyone else?
When your moral high ground is threatened by the undeniably immoral behaviour of your nation's politicians what do you do?
Well, I tend not to vote for them in the next election. Why? What do you do?

More to the point, what does immorality have to do with the topic at hand? Again I ask, are you shocked to learn that nations gather information about each other? Or are your delicate sensibilities offended by the [gasp] immorality of it?

You should get out more. Intelligence gathering has been going on for as long as people have been keeping secrets from each other.

~~~~~~~~~~
"Three generations of imbeciles are enough." -Oliver Wendell Holmes
[ Parent ]
Desert, and an admonishing finger waggled ... (none / 0) (#17)
by StrontiumDog on Sun Jul 08, 2001 at 05:55:53 AM EST

Intelligence gathering has been going on for as long as people have been keeping secrets from each other.

Protests against Echelon are not about protests against intelligence gathering. Nowhere did I mention the CIA or KGB. They exist. They have a purpose. They are necessary evils. Most countries has some form of intelligence gathering to help maintain state security.

Echelon is about the large scale, wholesale monitoring of large volumes of (pay attention here) private, civilian electronic communication of (pay attention here again) friendly, allied nations with whom (and pay attention here too) no war is being waged, and no hostile relations exist.

Keeping tabs on the political status of your friends and allies (in the military, cultural and economic senses) is one thing. Large scale monitoring of private, friendly civilian communication is another thing entirely. It serves no clear military purpose whatsoever. Any token attempt at justification such as the detection of possible terrorist communication is totally swamped by the large scale invasion of human rights and privacy that this entails. It is a police state apparatus. It is as immoral as they come. Put it another way: what benefit to monitoring private, friendly civilian communications could possibly justify the large scale human rights violations it involves? Give some concrete examples.

And I am willing to lay good odds that Echelon is the only project of it's kind in the world.

[ Parent ]

..., bitten off, and eaten for dessert. (none / 0) (#18)
by Hubris Boy on Sun Jul 08, 2001 at 07:29:37 PM EST

Protests against Echelon are not about protests against intelligence gathering.
Truth. Most protests against Echelon are simply social occasions, which offer pimply-faced undergrads the opportunity to get the panties off of ideology-addled college girls. Usually, these people have absolutely no idea what they're protesting, or why.
Nowhere did I mention the CIA or KGB.
Actually, the CIA doesn't concern itself with signal intelligence. That's another agency. If you're really interested, the ODCI has an excellent graphic here which shows (very generally) the organizational breakdown of the American intelligence community. You may find it instructive.
Echelon is about the large scale, wholesale monitoring of large volumes of (pay attention here) private, civilian electronic communication of (pay attention here again) friendly, allied nations with whom (and pay attention here too) no war is being waged, and no hostile relations exist.
So? Get over it. They do it to us, too, to the extent that they're able. Remember (pay attention here) Jonathan Pollard?
Keeping tabs on the political status of your friends and allies (in the military, cultural and economic senses) is one thing. Large scale monitoring of private, friendly civilian communication is another thing entirely.
No, it's not. They're exactly the same thing... Ohhhhhh! Now I get it! You're not being deliberately obtuse, you truly don't understand how the process works. Silly me. I made the mistake of assuming that you knew what you were talking about. Listen... you're confusing intent with method. As far as method goes, "keeping tabs on the political status of your friends and allies and "large scale monitoring of private, friendly civilian communication" are the same thing. A Wullenweber antenna farm, for example, sucks in everything, the same way a whale sucks in a cloud of krill. There's simply no way to selectively monitor electronic communications. You cast your net upon the waters...
It serves no clear military purpose whatsoever.
Wanna bet? How about if I manage to intercept a phone call from an "enemy" tank crewman to his mother, complaining that he's going to miss her birthday party because his division is deploying to the field? Don't scoff... that sort of thing happens all the time. That's how intelligence works. You take lots of little fragments and put together a big picture.

Or, how about if I intercept a fax from a front company, physically located in a "friendly, allied nation", attempting to purchase proscribed technology or materials for the "hostile" country that owns it. If you don't believe that that sort of thing happens, go ask the Pakistanis how they managed to detonate a nuclear weapon. Or ask the North Koreans where they get the machine tools to build the delicate bits of their Taepo Dong II missile system.

It is a police state apparatus.
No, it isn't. This is just how intelligence gathering works in the 21st century. Gentlemen used to read each others mail, now they monitor their phone calls. It isn't pretty. We wish it weren't necessary. But there it is. Whatever it is, it certainly is not the apparatus of a police state. Most police states can only dream of deploying a system like this! Instead, they content themselves with less advanced but nevertheless effective techniques, such as kneecapping, sleep deprivation, and attaching the leads from a hand-cranked generator to your testicles. Obviously, you've never lived in a police state. (Go ahead... ask. I dare you!)
It is as immoral as they come.
Boo-hoo. Which would you prefer: A well-informed Superpower making rational decisions based on good intelligence, or a Superpower stumbling around in the dark, lashing out blindly at ghosts, shadows and rumor?
And I am willing to lay good odds that Echelon is the only project of it's kind in the world.
No doubt. And a good thing, too. I certainly wouldn't want anyone else to be able to deploy this kind of system!

[ Parent ]
Can't resist this ... (none / 0) (#19)
by StrontiumDog on Thu Jul 12, 2001 at 05:40:22 AM EST

though this will never be read at this late point (I should check replies to comments more often).

. Obviously, you've never lived in a police state. (Go ahead... ask. I dare you!)

As a matter of fact, I have lived in a police state, for 17 years, as a matter of fact. (I do not live in a police state at this time.) To be more precise, I have lived in a succession of military juntas, with brief interludes of civillian rule.

Now that we've got that penis contest out of the way:

You have given no examples whatsoever that justify the deployment of Echelon.

  • There are no tank divisions in Amsterdam or Copenhagen. Monitoring their electronic communications has no military purpose. I call a red herring.
  • There are no Swedish Wullenweber farms in the US or Canada. There are no EU listening stations deployed on or near US territory. Echelon is deployed on EU territory, with at least two stations in the UK and Germany. I call a strawman.
  • The possibility of faxes from companies in friendly countries (e.g. Denmark) to countries in hostile nations (e.g. Cuba) do not warrant the large-scale tapping of their communications. This is what is known as "industrial espionage". The EU is irritated by this, and rightly so. You would be, too, if the police of whatever nation you lived in installed cameras in your bedroom in order to see, for example, if you occasionally practiced pedophilia. I call denial.
  • Last, but not the least: I don't want any Superpower, or conglomerate of nations, using the "need to make informed decisions" as an excuse to monitor my private communication. I would not tolerate it from my own government, and I do not tolerate it from another, no matter how benevolent that power may think it is. I calls em as I sees em.

If you are actually reading this post, I grant you a 5 rating for sheer perseverance.

[ Parent ]

What you must realize (4.50 / 4) (#15)
by PopeFelix on Fri Jul 06, 2001 at 07:35:56 PM EST

What you must realize is that Echelon is a sop. The powers behind the governments of the Echelon countries "accidentally" let some information regarding Echelon out, in order to distract the general populace, and especially groups such as the K5 community that might be minded to investigate things a bit more closely, from the smaller, quieter, more insidious portions of their master plan for world dominion. (cf. Barney, Captain Kangaroo, Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, Sealand, Slashdot, and alt.religion.scientology)

We must not be distracted. This is clearly the work of the Bavarian Illuminati. Take heed!


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EP Motion on Echelon | 19 comments (13 topical, 6 editorial, 0 hidden)
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