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e-money: Technologies Interim Study about EU Interception

this message entered the list on Wed, 11 Nov 1998 15:38:28 +0100
it has been sent by Technologies To The People


The Interim Study said that within Europe, all email, telephone and fax
communications are routinely intercepted by the United States National
Security Agency, transferring all target information from the European 
mainland via the strategic hub of London then by Satellite to Fort Meade 
in Maryland via the crucial hub at Menwith Hill in the North York Moors 
of the UK.

The system was first uncovered in the 1970s by a group of researchers in
the UK (Campbell, 1981). A recent work by Nicky Hager, Secret Power,
(Hager,1996) provides the most comprehensive details todate of a project 
known as ECHELON. Hager interviewed more than 50 people concerned with 
intelligence to document a global surveillance system that stretches 
around the world to form a targeting system on all of the key Intelsat 
satellites used to convey most of the world's satellite phone calls, 
internet, email, faxes and telexes. These sites are based at Sugar Grove 
and Yakima, in the USA, at Waihopai in New Zealand, at Geraldton in 
Australia, Hong Kong, and Morwenstow in the UK.

The ECHELON system forms part of the UKUSA system but unlike many of the
electronic spy systems developed during the cold war, ECHELON is designed
for primarily non-military targets: governments, organisations and businesses 
in virtually every country. The ECHELON system works by indiscriminately
intercepting very large quantities of communications and then siphoning out 
what is valuable using artificial intelligence aids like Memex. to find key 
words. Five nations share the results with the US as the senior partner under 
the UKUSA agreement of 1948, Britain, Canada, New Zealand and Australia are 
very much acting as subordinate information servicers.

Each of the five centres supply "dictionaries" to the other four of
keywords, Phrases, people and places to "tag" and the tagged intercept is
forwarded straight to the requesting country. Whilst there is much information 
gathered about potential terrorists, there is a lot of economic intelligence, 
notably intensive monitoring of all the countries participating
in the GATT negotiations. But Hager found that by far the main priorities
of this system continued to be military and political intelligence
applicable to their wider interests.

Hager quotes from "highly placed intelligence operatives" who spoke to the
Observer in London. "We feel we can no longer remain silent regarding that
which we regard to be gross malpractice and negligence within the establishment 
in which we operate." They gave as examples. GCHQ interception of three charities,
including Amnesty International and Christian Aid. "At any time GCHQ is able to 
home in on their communications for a routine target request," the GCHQ source 
said. In the case of phone taps the procedure is known as Mantis. With telexes 
its called Mayfly. By keying in a code relating to third world aid, the source 
was able to demonstrate telex "fixes" on the three organisations. With no system 
of accountability, it is difficult to discover what criteria determine who 
is not a target.

Indeed since the Interim Study was published, journalists have alleged that
ECHELON has benefited US companies involved in arms deals, strengthened
Washington's position in crucial World Trade organisation talks with Europe 
during a 1995 dispute with Japan over car part exports. According to the 
Financial Mail On Sunday, "key words identified by US experts include the 
names of inter-governmental trade organisations and business consortia bidding 
against US companies. The word 'block' is on the list to identify
communications about offshore oil in area where the seabed has yet to be
divided up into exploration blocks"..."It has also been suggested that in
1990 the US broke into secret negotiations and persuaded Indonesia that US 
giant AT & T be included in a multi-billion dollar telecoms deal that at one 
point was going entirely to Japan's NEC.

The Sunday Times (11 May 1998) reported that early on the radomes at
Menwith Hill (NSA station F83) In North Yorkshire UK, were given the task
of intercepting international leased carrrier (ILC) traffic - essentially, 
ordinary commercial communications. Its staff have grown from 400 in the 1980s 
to more than 1400 now with a further 370 staff from the MoD. The Sunday Times 
also reported allegations that converstaions between the German company Volkswagen 
and General Motors were intercepted and the French have complained that 
Thompson-CSF, the French electronics company, lost a $1.4 billion deal to 
supply Brazil with a radar system because the Americans intercepted details 
of the negotions and passed them on to US company Raytheon, which
subsequently won the contract. Another claim is that Airbus Industrie lost
a contract worth $1 billion to Boeing and McDonnel Douglas because information 
was intercepted by American spying. Other newspapers such as Liberation 21 April 1998) 
and Il Mondo (20 March 1998, identify the network as an Anglo-Saxon Spy network 
because of the UK-USA axis. Privacy International goes further. Whilst recognising
that 'strictly speaking, neither the Commission nor the European Parliament have a 
mandate to regulate or intervene in security matters...they do have a responsibility
is harmonised throughout the Union.

According to Privacy International, the UK is likely to find its 'Special
relationship' ties fall foul of its Maastricht obligations since Title V of
Maastricht requires that "Member States shall inform and consult one another 
within the Council on any matter of foreign and security policy of general 
interest in order to ensure that their combined influence is exerted as 
effectivelly as possible by means of concerted and convergent action." Yet 
under the terms of the Special relationship, Britain cannot engage in open 
consultatuion with its other European partners. The situation is further 
complicated by counter allegations in the French magazine Le Point, that the 
French are systematically spying on American and other allied countries 
telephone and cable traffic via the Helios 1A Spy sattelite. (Times, June 17 1998)

If even half of these allegations are true then the European Parliament
must act to ensure that such powerful surveillance systems operate to a
more democratic consensus now that the Cold War has ended. Clearly, the 
Overseas policies of European Union Member States are not always congruent 
with those of the USA and in commercial terms, espionage is espionage. 
No proper Authority in the USA would allow a similar EU spy network to 
operate from American soil without strict limitations, if at all. Following 
full discussion on the implications of the operations of these networks, the
European Parliament is advised to set up appropriate independent audit and
oversight porocedures and that any effort to outlaw encryption by EU citizens 
should be denied until and unless such democratic and accountable systems are 
in place, if at all.

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