Feeds

Echelon isn't a threat – but scramble your emails anyway

Just because you're paranoid...

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

The essential guide to IT transformation

A draft European Parliament report on the Echelon spy network has sent out conflicting messages to the public about the threat posed to privacy by the system.

On the one hand legislators said there was no solid evidence that the US-led network was involved in commercial espionage, but a draft report still encouraged Internet users to encrypt their email - just in case. A final report is expected in September but a Parliamentary group looking into Echelon meets today, which has created an explosion of interest in the subject.

European MPs have been investigating Echelon for over a year after allegations that the US had used the shadowy system to engage on a spot of industrial espionage on European firms.

Previous statements by the parliamentary temporary committee investigating Echelon have indicated that Brussels considered it something of a paper tiger, and have dismissed speculation that the system can intercept virtually all electronic communications around the globe.

One of the main reasons the committee reached this conclusion is that it doesn't believe the technology - be it speech recognition systems or filtering systems - is up to the job. In fact its main concern seems to be the lack of legislative oversight of the system.

Echelon refers to an automated global interception and relay system created during the cold war and operated by the intelligence agencies of the United States, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Unlike most spy systems Echelon is designed to intercept private and commercial communications, and not military traffic.

It has been suggested that Echelon may intercept as many as 3 billion communications everyday, including phone calls, email messages, Internet downloads and satellite transmissions.

Some estimates (probably wide of the mark) estimate that Echelon filters through 90 per cent of the traffic that flows through the Internet, but the exact capabilities of Echelon remain unclear. ®

Related Stories

Echelon FAQ
European Parliament Temporary Committee on the Echelon Interception System - working paper

Related Stories

Euro Parliament calls Echelon a paper tiger
An Outlook worm to jam NSA's Echelon
CIA patching Echelon shortcomings
French Echelon report says Europe should lock out US snoops
Euro Parliament to investigate Echelon

Gartner critical capabilities for enterprise endpoint backup

More from The Register

next story
6 Obvious Reasons Why Facebook Will Ban This Article (Thank God)
Clampdown on clickbait ... and El Reg is OK with this
Mozilla's 'Tiles' ads debut in new Firefox nightlies
You can try turning them off and on again
No, thank you. I will not code for the Caliphate
Some assignments, even the Bongster decline must
Barnes & Noble: Swallow a Samsung Nook tablet, please ... pretty please
Novelslab finally on sale with ($199 - $20) price tag
Banking apps: Handy, can grab all your money... and RIDDLED with coding flaws
Yep, that one place you'd hoped you wouldn't find 'em
TROLL SLAYER Google grabs $1.3 MEEELLION in patent counter-suit
Chocolate Factory hits back at firm for suing customers
Primetime precrime? Minority Report TV series 'being developed'
I have to know. I have to find out what happened to my life
Netflix swallows yet another bitter pill, inks peering deal with TWC
Net neutrality crusader once again pays up for priority access
prev story

Whitepapers

Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Backing up distributed data
Eliminating the redundant use of bandwidth and storage capacity and application consolidation in the modern data center.
The essential guide to IT transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIOs automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.