felipe on Mon, 9 Feb 1998 23:59:31 +0100 (MET)

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<nettime> National & International Communications Interceptions Networks

This message is a quote from a report published by the EU Parliament:

Published by Scientific and Technological Options Assessment (STOA)
Directorate General for Research
Luxembourg 6 january 1998
Document nr: PE 166 499

"The document is a working document. The current version is being
circulated for consultation. It is not an official publication of STOA or
of the European Parliament. The document does not necessarily represent the
views of the European Parliament."

"4.4 National & International Communications Interceptions Networks

Modern communications systems are virtually transparent to the advanced
interceptions equipment which can be used to listen in. Some systems even
lend themselves to a dual role as a national interceptions network. For
example the message switching system used on digital exchanges like System
X in the UK supports an Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN)
protocol. This allows digital devices. E.g. fax to share the system with
existing lines. The ISDN subset is defined in their documents as "Signaling
CCITT1-series interface for ISDN access. What is not widely known is that
built in to the international CCITT protocol is the ability to take phones
'off hook' and listen to the conversations occurring near the phone,
without the user being aware that it is happening. (SGR Newsletter,
No.4,1993) This effectively means that a national dial up telephone tapping
capacity is built into these systems from the start. (System X has been
exported to Russia and China) Similarly, the digital technology required to
pinpoint mobile phone users for incoming phone calls, means that all mobile
phone users in a country when activated, are mini-tracking devices, giving
their owners whereabouts at any time and stored in the company's computer
for up to two years. Coupled with System X technology, this is a custom
built mobile track, tail and tap system par excellence. (Sunday telegraph,

Within Europe, all email, telephone and fax communications are routinely
intercepted by the United States National Security Agency, transferring all
target information from the European mainland via the strategic hub of
London then by satellite to Fort Meade in Maryland via the crucial hub at
Menwith Hill in the North York Moors of the UK. The system was first
uncovered in the 1970's by a group of  researchers in the UK (campbell,
1981. The researchers used open sources but where subsequently arrested
under Britain's Official Secrets legislation. The 'ABC' trial that followed
was a critical turning point in researcher's understanding of both of the
technology of political control and how it might be challenged by research
on open sources. (See Aubrey, 1981 & Hooper 1987) Other work on what is now
known as Signals intelligence was undertaken by researchers such as James
Bamford, which uncovered a billion dollar world wide interceptions network,
which he nicknamed the 'Puzzle Palace'. A recent work by Nicky Hager,
Secret Power, (hager 1996) provider the most comprehensive details to date
of a project called ECHELON. Hager interviewed more than 50 people
concerned with intelligence to document a global surveillance system that
stretches around the world to form a targeting system on all of the key
Intelsat satellites used to convey most of the world's satellite phone
calls, internet, email, faxes and telexes. These sites are based at Sugar
grove and Yakima, in the USA, at Waihopai in New Zealand, at Geraldton in
Australia, Hong Kong and Morwenstow in the UK.

The ECHELON system forms part of the UKUSA system but unlike many of the
electronic spy systems developed during the cold war, ECHELON is designed
for primarily non-military targets: governments, organisations and
businesses in virtually every country. The ECHELON system works by
indiscriminately intercepting very large quantities of communications and
then siphoning out what is valuable using artificial intelligence aids like
Memex. To find key words. Five nations share the results with the US as the
senior partner under the UKUSA agreement of 1948, Britain, New Zealand, and
Australia are very much acting as subordinate information sevicers.

Each of the five centres supply "dictionaries" to the other four of
keywords, Phrases, people and places to "tag" and the tagged information
intercept is forwarded straight to the requesting country. Whilst there is
much information gathered about potential terrorists, there is a lot of
economic intelligence, notably intensive monitoring of all the countries
participating in the GA TT negotiations. But Hager found that by far the
main priorities of this system continued to be military and political
intelligence applicable to their wider interests. Hager quotes from a
"highly placed intelligence operatives" who spoke in the Observer in
London. "We feel we can no longer remain silent regarding that which we
regard to be gross malpractice and negligence within the establishment in
which we operate." They gave as examples. GCHQ interception of three
charities, including Amnesty International and Christian Aid. "At any time
GCHQ is able to home in on their communications for a routine target
request," the GCHQ source said. In the case of phone taps the procedure is
known as Mantis. With telexes its called Myfly. By keying in a code
relating to third world aid, the source was able to demonstrate telex
"fixes" on the three organisations. With no system of accountability, it is
difficult to discover what criteria determine who is not a target.

In February, the UK based research publication Statewatch reported that the
EU had secretly agreed to set up an international telephone tapping network
via a secret network of committees established under the "third pillar" of
the Maastricht Treaty covering co-operation on law and order. Key points of
the plan are outlined in a memorandum of understanding signed by EU states
in 1995. (ENFOPOL 112 10037/95 25.10.95) which remains classified.
According to a Guardian report (25.2.97) it reflects concern among European
intelligence agencies that modern technology will prevent them from tapping
private communications. "EU countries it says, should agree on
"international interception standards set at a level that would ensure
encoding or scrambled words can be broken down by government agencies."
Official report say that the EU governments agreed to co-operate closely
with the FBI in Washington. Yet earlier minutes of these meetings suggest
that the original initiative cane from Washington. According to Statewatch,
network and service providers in the EU will be obliged to install
"tappable" systems and to place under surveillance any person or group when
served with an interception order. These plans have never been referred to
any European government for scrutiny, nor one suspects to the Civil Liberty
Committee of the European Parliament, despite the clear civil liberties
issues raised by such an unaccountable system. We are told that the USA,
Australia, Canada, Norway and Hong Kong are ready to sign up. All these bar
Norway are parties to the ECHELON system and it is impossible to determine
if there are not other agendas at work here. Nothing is said about finance
of this system but a report produced by the German government estimates
that the mobile phone part of the package will cost 4 billion D-marks. 

Statewatch concludes that "It is the interface of the ECHELON system and
its potential development on phone calls combined with the standardization
of "tappable communications centres and equipment being sponsored by the EU
and the USA which present a truly global threat over which there are no
legal or democratic controls" (press release 25.2.97)"

If you are interested in obtaining a free copy of this report, then
complete this fax and 
send it to 
++ 32-22-849059

TO: 	Karin Sercu, STOA Programme
	Directorate-General for Research,
	Directorate B, Eastman 112,
	rue Belliard 97-113, B-1047 Bruxelles, Belgium

Subject: STOA report 'Technologies of Political Control'


Dear Ms. Sercu,

I'd like to acquire the STOA Report "AN APPRAISAL OF TECHNOLOGIES OF
POLITICAL CONTROL", document number PE 166 499.

Please please send it to:


Kind regards,


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