ECHELON \'ech e lon\ noun (1) a formation of units or individuals (2) the US National Security Agency's secret global surveillance network, which intercepts many of the world's telephone calls, faxes and emails, making them available for keyword searching by agencies of the five member UKUSA intelligence alliance.

Media Coverage of the NSA ECHELON System

Wired Magazine Did EU Scuttle Echelon Debate? 10/5/98
Wired Magazine Eavesdropping on Europe 9/30/98
Izvestia Scandalous ECHELON 9/25/98
Nikkei English News U.S. Spy Agency Helped U.S. Companies Win Business 9/21/98
Baltimore Sun NSA Listening Practices Called European `Threat' 9/19/98
Village Voice The US Led Echelon Spy Network is Spying on the Whole World 8/11/98
USA Journal Echelon: America's Spy in the Sky 6/15/98
London Sunday Times Spy Station F83: Cracking the Menwith Codes 5/31/98
The Independent Global Operation Combs the Airwaves for Business Secrets 4/11/98
New York Times European Study Paints a Chilling Portrait of Technology's Uses 2/24/98
Electronic Telegraph Spies Like Us: Cooking Up a Charter for Snooping 12/16/97
Insight Magazine Snooping on Allies Embarrasses US 10/20/97
Insight Magazine Snoops, Sex, and Videotape 9/29/97
Insight Magazine Did Clinton Bug Conclave for Cash? 9/15/97
Statewatch Magazine European Union and FBI Launch Global Surveillance System 2/97

NRC Handelsblad - Codenaam Echelon (Dutch)

Europees Parlement: Akkoord aftappen VS en EU 16.10.98
Europarlement keurt afluisteren door VS af 17.10.98
De opmars van wereldwijde controle 7.2.98
'Geheime dienst VS luistert Europa af' 5.2.98

What's all this about?

The UKUSA Intelligence Alliance is comprised of the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand -- Joined at the Hip is another article describing the 1947 UKUSA agreement.

Liason Officers are allied spies used to bypass laws against domestic espionage. For example, British GCHQ officers are used by American intelligence agencies to spy on US citizens. Similarly, US intelligence officers work in Regional SIGINT Operation Centers (RSOC's) such as Menwith Hill in the UK.

Menwith Hill is an NSA base in the UK used to monitor European communications. The Campaign for the Accountability of American Bases is an opposition movement which has held protests there.

The Secret FISA Court has authorized all but one of over 7,500 requests to spy in the name of national security. Seven Judges meet in secret, with no published orders, opinions, or public record.

When President Clinton signed Executive Order 12949, the mandate of the FISA court was greatly expanded: it now has legal authority to approve domestic black-bag operations (breaking into people's homes to collect information about them) in addition to electronic surveillance.

The so-called "Huston Plan" of 1970 also authorized surrepititious entries. It was one of Richard Nixon's responses to the Vietnam war protests. The FISA Act of 1978, resulting from a congressional investigation (The Church Committee hearings), had subsequently made this practice illegal.

Project 415 this 1988 article describes ECHELON and has more links

The Puzzle Palace, by James Bamford

"Mr. Bamford has emerged with everything except the combination to the director's safe." -- NYT Book Review
Chapter 8 ----- Partners ----- Chapter 9 ----- Competition ----- Chapter 10 ----- Abyss

"The European Parliament is advised to set up appropriate independent
audit and oversight procedures 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." EU STOA Report, 9/98

European Parliament: An Appraisal of the Technologies of Political Control

Interim Report * Summary and Options Report

"In many respects what we are witnessing here are meetings
of operatives of a new global military-intelligence state."

-- from EU Parliament Report

European Parliament debate 9/14/98
European Parliament debate 9/26/98

The Cryptography Manifesto

by Information Security


Part 1. Massive Domestic Spying via NSA ECHELON

Part 2. On Monitoring and Being Monitored

Part 3. 1984 Means a Constant State of War

Part 4. Why Unlimited Cryptography Must Be Legislated Now

Part 5. There is no part five.

Part 6. Louis Freeh & the Creeping Police State

Cryptography and Democracy the dilemma of balancing security with freedom

Links to Related Webpages

Codename ECHELON more links and background from Laszlo in Sweden

The Cryptome John Young's cypherpunk archive

L'espionage Electronique un systeme de surveillance mondial

Christian Masson's page (also in French) describes wiretapping systems throughout Europe.

Softwar by Charles Smith

Federation of American Scientists - John Pike's government secrecy project

Privacy International

Electronic Privacy Information Center

Center for Democracy and Technology

Electronic Frontier Foundation


webpage by Paul Wolf