anniversary II

From jjf <>
Date Fri, 7 Jul 2000 21:02:34 +0100

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roughly 48 hours after my original posting the reactions have been better than I expected. It seems like most people think some sort of action would be a good idea. 

The strongest counterargument seems to be that the way JED was organised last year it had little direct effect on Echelon; I would be inclined to agree with that. The Echelon system itself was certainly not slowed down by people sending keyworded emails, but those email somehow caught the attention of a number of journalists who subsequently got interested in the story and wrote something about it (frequently mentioning the JED idea, which originated on this list). I don't think it would be too outrageous to claim that this has contributed to the steady flow of information we have been getting on Echelon over the last year, so much so that Echelon has been featuring prominently in the French, British and German press over the past few weeks (in fact it's causing quite an uproar in the European parliament, placing the story firmly on the front page of the Guardian, the Times and the FT this week). The fact that it isn't much of a topic in the United States yet merely indicates where the lines of power lie: if it's spying on somebody else most Americans probably don't care.

The question is, what can we do this time round which will increase awareness about Echelon and maybe even start the ball rolling in the direction of a bigger public outcry? If last year was a publicity stunt, then this year has got to go a step further. While I would agree with BroncBuster that we should be campaigning against Echelon every day (and I don't agree with BB that often ;-) ) some sort of climax event would be good simply because it makes for better copy. The key to publicity is getting the mass media to devote a little of their time to you and they are more likely to do that if they can name a date and a place (/website/email list/spokesperson etc.) than if it is a long running thing. We're all supposed to love each other all the time but it's not till Christmas that people make a fuss about it, right? So, a day in the spirit of (metaphorically) jamming Echelon would be good. The "step further" might take the form of an attempt at mass education. Targetting the media for stories, collecting as much info about Echelon as possible and providing possible solutions to Echelon and Echelon-like problems: encryption, public inquiries, etc. Echelon contravenes countless laws and goodwill agreements. It is an untransparent source of power which can be abused if those that wield it feel like it (e.g. passing on industrial secrets to their countries companies).

And Echelon is only the beginning. The public has yet to wake up to the reality of government eavesdropping that is going to be in place in the near future. The UK is a good example and the article posted by JEDI makes this only too clear. 

So, to sum up: Education seems to be called for this time round. There are websites in place already so there shouldn't be any need to set up new ones. Rather, it would be a good idea to contact the websites and propose the idea and perhaps come up with a few cool stunts or projects to mark the day. Mass PGP downloads. "Visit you local Echelon station" excursions. Perhaps even a little hack... oh but that might be saying too much... I'd love to get a bogus "Echelon exposed" message onto the Reuters system ;-) [Only joking. I would NEVER do THAT]



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