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European Parliament continues Echelon investigation

This time the legality

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The European Parliament will continue its investigation into the Echelon spying system today in Brussels. A temporary committee was set up half way through last year when reports of the US, UK, Australia and New Zealand-sponsored spying system entered wide circulation.

The European Parliament will decide what it should do regarding Echelon in a series of meetings, the second set of which started today. The French are particularly upset about the spying system - mostly because they're not part of it - and have started up their own rival system. They also ran their own investigation into whether Echelon has been used to spy on and influence important international business decisions. The report decided they did and asked for greater encryption in Europe.

The first meeting of the Temporary Committee on the Echelon Interception System was held in November last year and was dedicated to finding out just what Echelon was and was capable of. The next meeting was set for 22 January this year but for some reason didn't go ahead. Instead, this meeting, starting 22 March, will look at "Legal Affairs, Human Rights and Privacy".

Speakers include a number of privacy advocates, including Simon Davis from Privacy International and Yaman Akdeniz from Cyber Rights and Cyber Liberties - both based in the UK. The agenda, submitted documents - including Duncan Campbell's (the man who discovered Echelon) assessment of Echelon's legality - and other information is available here.

The next meeting is due to take place on 3 April. ®

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