USA Spying on World's Citizens - ECHELON System
- uploaded: Nov 10, 2013
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ECHELON is the term 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. These countries coordinate their activities pursuant to the UK-USA agreement, which dates back to 1947. The original ECHELON dates back to 1971. However, its capabilities and priorities have expanded greatly since its formation. 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. However, the exact capabilities and goals of ECHELON remain unclear. Also, it is apparently very difficult for ECHELON to intercept certain types of transmissions, particularly fiber communications. However, recent developments, such as The NSA's recent 2 billion dollar National Data Center in Utah, located near Salt Lake City, is believed to be specifically targeted towards surveillance of Internet fiber optic communications systems. NSA's budget has also been increasing since 2011, and a joint project between Australia's DSD and America's NSA in developing a prototype of a quantum computer for running new surveillance and encryption breaking programs, after the PRISM surveillance program is retired, are worrying to say the least. NSA are predicted to have quantum computer technology by the next decade, giving them the ultimate weapon in surveillance technology. ECHELON apparently collects data in several ways. Reports suggest it 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 various sources, ECHELON 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. It also uses search software to scan for web sites that may be of interest. Furthermore, it is believed that ECHELON has even used special underwater devices which tap into cables that carry phone calls across the seas. According to published reports, American divers were able to install surveillance devices on to the underwater cables. One of these taps was discovered in 1982, but other devices apparently continued to function undetected. After capturing this raw data, ECHELON sifts through them using DICTIONARY. DICTIONARY is actually 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. The United States government has gone to extreme lengths to keep ECHELON a secret. To this day, the U.S. government refuses to admit that ECHELON even exists. We know it exists because both the governments of Australia (through its Defence Signals Directorate) and New Zealand have admitted to this fact. However, even with this revelation, US officials have refused to comment. However, as former members involved in the NSA, such as Edward Snowden, are beginning to come forward with new information on government spying on civilians, this "wall of silence" is beginning to erode.
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