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Date: 1999-11-17


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Die American Civil Liberties Union [ACLU], EPIC [Electronic
Privacy Information Center] sowie die britische Omega
Foundation, die den ersten STOA-Bericht [An Appraisal of
the Technologies of Political Control 1996/97] an die EU-
Kommission verfasst hat, hosten

Man erwartet, dass die aus aller Herren stammenden
Mitglieder der Global Internet Liberty Campaign, das Ihrige an
regionalen Puzzlesteinen beitragen werden, damit die
Dimensionen des globalen Molochs ECHELON sichtbar

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WASHINGTON-The American Civil Liberties Union today
launched a web site designed to shed light on a global
electronic surveillance system known by the code name
"Echelon" that reportedly allows the United States and other
governments to eavesdrop on private citizens. "Echelon is
perhaps the most powerful intelligence gathering network in
the world," said Barry Steinhardt, Associate Director of the
ACLU. "But it is still very much a black box, which
apparently operates without the oversight of Congress or the
courts." The website - - encourages
public discussion of the potential threat that Echelon poses
to civil liberties, and allows visitors to fax free letters to
Congress, urging their support for a congressional inquiry into
the Echelon project. It also provides a collection of research
documents on Echelon. After many years of reports by
investigative journalists, the existence of Echelon became an
international issue when the European Parliament received
two reports detailing its operations and after the Australian
government confirmed its participation in the operation.
According to those reports, Echelon is led by the U.S.
National Security Agency in conjunction with its counterpart
agencies in England, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
Echelon reportedly attempts to capture all satellite,
microwave, cellular and fiber-optic communications
worldwide, including communications to and from North
America. Computers then use sophisticated filtering
technology to sort through conversations, faxes and emails
searching for keywords or other flags. Communications that
include the flags are then forwarded to the intelligence
agency that requested them. The report to the European
Parliament charged that Echelon had been used in the
United Kingdom to spy on charities such as Amnesty
International and Christian Aid. "Echelon can no longer be
dismissed as an X-Files fantasy," Steinhardt said. "The
reports to the European Parliament make it quite clear that
Echelon exists and that its operation raises profound civil
liberties issues." The NSA has refused to share with
Congress and the public the legal guidelines for the project.
This refusal prompted passage of a bill, now in the final
stages before becoming law, requiring the intelligence
agencies to prepare a report on the legal standards they use
for monitoring communications. Within the next few months,
the U.S. House Government Reform and Oversight
Committee will hold hearings on Echelon. "It appears that the
U.S. government is once again spying on Americans' private
communications," said Gregory T. Nojeim, a legislative
counsel in the ACLU's Washington National Office.
"Congress must determine if Echelon is as sweeping and
intrusive as has been reported, and most importantly, it must
ensure that Americans' conversations are not intercepted
without a court order." The ACLU created and administers
the site in conjunction with the Washington, DC based
Electronic Privacy Information Center and the Omega
Foundation of Great Britain, which prepared the first report to
the European Parliament.
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edited by Harkank
published on: 1999-11-17
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