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<nettime> NSA vs Europe
Maurice Wessling on 3 Mar 2001 18:08:27 -0000


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<nettime> NSA vs Europe


There is an interesting twist to the Echelon investigation by the European
Parliament that does not seem to make the headlines except for newspapers
in France and the Netherlands.

The 'temporary committee on the Echelon interception' of the European
Parliament is investigating the US-UK SIGNIT network that is spying on
all, including EU members. The committee finds out that the head of the EU
code bureau (responsible for the security of european commission
communications) is a British guy with family and/or friends at the NSA who
has let the NSA check and advise on counter-measures taken by the EU to
protect against the SIGINT activities of the NSA and others. How can you
protect yourself against US-UK SIGINT if a British national together with
the NSA are evaluating the counter measures?

maurice


The original story appeared in Liberation:

http://www.liberation.fr/20010301jeug.html
http://www.liberation.fr/quotidien/semaine/20010302venf.html

EU rejects report US given access to secrets

APws 3/1/01 7:29 AM

By CONSTANT BRAND
  Associated Press Writer

    BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) -- The European Union's head office denied a
report Thursday that a U.S. intelligence agency had been granted access to
security codes protecting secret EU communications.

    An article in French daily Liberation reported that a European
Commission official responsible for communication security acknowledged
the U.S. National Security Agency was regularly allowed to test the
Commission's encryption systems to ensure they are secure.

    The daily also reported that the official, Desmond Perkins, who is
British, has a family member who works for the Maryland-based NSA, which
gathers intelligence information for the U.S. government and is
responsible for protecting government information.

    Liberation questioned whether the EU compromised its security by
letting the NSA to bug EU encryption machines.

    "This is a major misunderstanding," said EU spokesman Jonathan Faull.
"This is not a system which was cracked by the NSA, and there was no
situation where the Commission opened its system to third parties,
certainly not."

    The Commission purchased its current encoding systems some ten years
ago from German company Siemens AG, which promoted its machines by
claiming that even the NSA couldn't break the coding, Faull said.

    Perkins recently appeared before an ongoing European Parliament
committee investigating an alleged U.S.-led spy network dubbed Echelon.
According to Liberation, he agreed that U.S. intelligence officers could
not crack the EU system, when he asked them to test it after the purchase.

    "In two weeks, (they) were unable to penetrate our encryption systems.
I was very satisfied with that," the paper quoted Perkins as saying.

    Faull said the Commission knew Perkins, who started working for the EU
in 1976, had a family member working at the NSA.

    "His boss was aware of these facts when he worked there," Faull told
reporters. "No one has tried to hide that and we have no reason to believe
that this situation creates any difficulties."

    Faull added that encryption machines are continually tested and
upgraded with new software to avoid any possible lapses of security.

    The parliamentary committee investigating Echelon, has sent a letter
to the Commission asking more information about the EU's relationship with
the NSA. The committee is due to meet again March 5.

    Many Europeans think the NSA is behind the Echelon system which has
been accused of spying on European businesses and passing gathered
information to their U.S. competitors cb-pa



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