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Data Capture:
Rumors say Echelon has massive ground based radio antennae to intercept satellite transmissions. In addition, some sites reputedly are tasked with tapping surface traffic. These antennae reportedly are in the United States, Italy, England, Turkey, New Zealand, Canada, Australia, and several other places. Similarly, it is believed that Echelon uses numerous satellites to catch "spillover" data from transmissions between cities. These satellites then beam the information down to processing centers on the ground. The main centers are in the United States (near Denver), England (Menwith Hill), Australia, and Germany.
According to some sources, it also routinely intercepts Internet transmissions. The organization allegedly has installed numerous "sniffer" devices. These "sniffers" collect information from data packets as they traverse the Internet via several key junctions.


Data Filtering

After capturing this raw data, Echelon sifts through them using a special system of computers which finds pertinent information by searching for key words, addresses, etc. These search programs help pare down the voluminous quantity of transmissions which pass through the Echelon network every day. These programs also seem to enable users to focus on any specific subject upon which information is desired.




facts and legend about the global surveillance network

The European Union has recently risen the issue of privacy in communications.
Earlier, in May, European Parliament members investigating a suspected U.S.-led global electronic eavesdropping system had abruptly cut short their fact-finding mission to Washington. They were in town to meet with various officials about reported U.S. spying on the European Echelon surveillance network for the benefit of U.S. companies, but left in protest over the Bush administration's apparent unwillingness to meet with them.

Carlos Coelho of Portugal, chairman of a temporary committee investigating the issue, said his team was "concerned and dismayed" that scheduled meetings at the U.S. State and Commerce departments "were canceled at the last minute without a satisfactory explanation." He also said the committee was "very disappointed' that the CIA and National Security Agency refused to meet with it "in spite of the advanced preparations that had been made.

Apart from the allegations, how would that be possible ? Of course most of this type of technology is classified, but needless to say on the Web several hypothesis circulate. This article reviews some of the most popular online.

Imagine a global eavesdropping network capable of intercepting most of the world's telephone calls, faxes and emails, making them available for computer search (eg by keywords) by agencies of the five member UKUSA intelligence alliance. This is what (probably) is Echelon, the supersecret organization created in the 1947 by the secret UKUSA agreement.

It is however very hard to separate the facts from the legend, both because the project is secret and because several fantastic rumors circulate - mostly on the interet - about it.

ECHELON is the term popularly used for an automated global interception and relay system operated by the intelligence agencies in five nations: the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand (it is believed that ECHELON is the code name for the portion of the system that intercepts satellite-based communications).

While the United States National Security Agency (NSA) takes the lead, ECHELON works in conjunction with other intelligence agencies, including the Australian Defence Signals Directorate (DSD). It is believed that ECHELON also works with Britain's Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) and the agencies of other allies of the United States, pursuant to various treaties.

According to reports, ECHELON attempts to capture staggering volumes of satellite, microwave, cellular and fiber-optic traffic, including communications to and from North America. This vast quantity of voice and data communications are then processed through sophisticated filtering technologies.

These countries coordinate their activities pursuant to the UKUSA agreement, which dates back to 1947. The original ECHELON dates back to 1971. However, its capabilities and priorities have expanded greatly since its formation.

About its workings, there are only speculations.
It apparently collects data in several ways.
Two steps are crucial: capture of raw data and filtering of data in search of relevant information. See boxes on left column.

According to reports, it is capable of intercepting and processing many types of transmissions, throughout the globe. In fact, it has been suggested that ECHELON may intercept as many as 3 billion communications everyday, including phone calls, e-mail messages, Internet downloads, satellite transmissions, and so on.

The ECHELON system gathers all of these transmissions indiscriminately, then distills 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 U.S. Intelligence Community
by Jeffrey T. Richelson

This book provides a detailed overview of America's vast intelligence empire-its organizations, its operations (from spies on the ground to satellites thousands of miles in space), and its management structure. Relying on a... Read more


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