Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Echelon Network Is Listening?...

Echelon is a network designed to collect and analyze information being operated by 5 different countries, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States .

The agreement to operate this intelligence network is called AUSCANNZUKUS, nicknamed "five eyes" after the five member nations.  The organization seems to have begin in 1960 and in 1980 the last member New Zealand joined.

According to a European Parliament report of July 2001, Echelon is designed to intercept satellite communications.  It has two features which make it different from other intelligence systems.  The first is it's ability through satellite receiver stations and spy satellites to "...intercept any telephone, fax and Internet or e-mail message sent by any individual and thus to inspect its contents."  The second feature is that its international dimensions give it the ability to intercept both sides of the message.  One concern of the European Parliament was voiced this way:
Possible threats to privacy and to businesses posed by a system of the ECHELON type arise not only from the fact that is a particularly powerful monitoring system, but also that it operates in a largely legislation-free area. Systems for the interception of international communications are not usually targeted at residents of the home country. The person whose messages were intercepted would have no domestic legal protection, not being resident in the country concerned. Such a person would be completely at the mercy of the system. Parliamentary supervision would also be inadequate in this area, since the voters, who assume that interception only affects people abroad, would not be particularly interested in it, and elected representatives chiefly follow the interests of their voters. That being so, it is hardly surprising that the hearings held in the US Congress concerning the activities of the NSA were confined to the question of whether US citizens were affected by it, with no real concern expressed regarding the existence of such a system in itself. It thus seems all the more important to investigate this issue at European level.
One must remember that this was its power before  the attacks on the World Trade Center in September of that year.  It seems probable to assume that its powers to spy have been increased with less regulation and interference from any governments.  Although the NSA is not supposed to pass on any intelligence to private companies, some assert it DOES happen.  This might ensue with the close relationship that exists between some paramilitary corporations and governments.  One such person who asserts this view is author James Banford who has written a book titled, Body of Secret: Anatomy of the Ultra-Secret NSA from 9/11 to the Eavesdropping on America, (it is listed in the Amazon carousel at the end of this article). 

For American citizens according to this report and citizens of the member nations there are certain safeguards in place:

in 'Body of Secrets' he describes in detail how the protection of 'US persons' (i.e. US citizens and persons legally resident in the USA) has developed and makes clear that at least internal restrictions have been laid down in respect of other UKUSA residents. At the same time, he points out that other persons enjoy no protection, that there is no requirement to destroy data concerning such persons, and that the NSA's data storage capacities are unimaginably huge.

Bamford however, stated that the Internet posed limitations to the Echelon System, since those communications travel through Fiberoptic cable, and not satellite.

It must be cautioned that there are two books published that are quoted by many in the circles of conspiracy seekers that do not claim to be investigative journalism rather pure fiction.  These are Echelon: Somebody's Listening by Jack O'Neill and Echelon by Josh Conviser, both of which, are listed in Amazon's carousel below.

"Never before in history have so few people wiretapped so many." James Bamford.

These three systems have to do with Internet intelligence.  The first one was phased out by the FBI in 2005.  It was replaced by NarusInsight.  The company is a Isreali based according to Mr. Bamford.  Here is a short video presentation of its intercepting abilities of NarusInsight.  NarusInsight has installed systems for repressive governments such as China and Vietnam which have in turn used those systems to block certain information from coming in or going out.  In Vietnam, it has led to the arrests of dissidents from the government at internet cafes through this software according to Mr. Bramford.

A single NarusInsight machine can monitor traffic equal to the maximum capacity (10 Gbit/s) of around 39,000 DSL lines or 195,000 telephone modems. But, in practical terms, since individual internet connections are not continually filled to capacity, the 10 Gbit/s capacity of one NarusInsight installation enables it to monitor the combined traffic of several million broadband users. ***

Verint Systems based in Melville, N.Y., was founded in 1994.  It also deals control of information, specifically with extremely sophisticated video surveillance.  Verint Systems also founded by a group of Israelis, had a famous problem with one of its founders, Jacob Alexander who was charged with financial illegalities which we will not digress to here.

Pen-Link has two systems one named Pen-Link8 and the other Lincoln 2.  These specialize in wiretapping and are in wide use by law enforcement.  Here is one of their advertisements for their Lincoln 2 software.   Since 2006 Pen-Link has marketed its software with NarusInsight.  NarusInsight captures the data and Pen-Link analyzes it. ****
Anytime, anywhere, LINCOLN Software and Systems let you collect and record intercepted communications of any type - wireline, wireless, VoIP, 3G and IP. Pen-Link also provides the most complete product available to automatically load various formatted call, IP, and transaction records from a wide variety of communication and Internet service providers.
"The reality is we are fast approaching a genuine surveillance society in the United States - a dark future where our every move, our every transaction, our every communication is recorded, compiled, and stored away, ready to be examined and used against us by the authorities whenever they want."
In 2007, The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) warned that America was quickly reaching the status of a surveillance state.  The government has a right to defend itself.  Law enforcement have a directive from society to police society.  To protect the innocent and punish law breakers.  But how it is to do this is at the center of the debate.  In 2005 alone, Verizon received 239,000 requests for customer information from various law enforcement agencies.  It also received requests for "calling circles" of individuals. ***  It found itself unprepared to give this kind of information to the agencies, since, it only used this information for billing purposes.

This is an issue which no doubt will only grow in relevance and importance in time to come.  There is a delicate balance involved.  We need protection but at what price?  A police state can protect us if deemed willing to do so.  Yet the American people have a long tradition of not trusting their government.  This is why they created a system of checks and balances in the Constitution.  Would Washington or Jefferson have approved of these kind of security measures?  It is hard to tell they were men of a different time and place.  But the question is WORTHY of exploration.  Have we wandered away from our core principles of individual freedom and a right to privacy?  Has the nature of the Internet changed those values completely?  Does anyone have any privacy anymore in the digital age?  Our answer is they do NOT.  Once you adopt the digital lifestyle you give up privacy as it was once known.  But we think the only solution to this is that NO one will have privacy.  We will revert back to life in a small village, except this village is the world and it is digital.  In a small village there is no privacy.  But this was rarely not abused because NO one had privacy.  So people learned to accept the other person without a desire to defame or destroy them.  It is only when one has the assurance of anonymity, that one may feel the desire to destroy the reputation of another.  What do you think?


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