From megan <>
Date Thu, 21 Oct 1999 16:09:18 +0000 (GMT)

[: hacktivism :]

NEW YORK POST 10-21-99

 WANT to give a big, fat finger to Big Brother today? Fax or e-mail this 
column to a friend. Be sure to include the following words: 

Unabomber. Anthrax. Fissionable plutonium. North Korea. Militia. Delta Force. 
Ruby Ridge. 

If the suspicions of Rep. Bob Barr (R-Ga.), the American Civil Liberties 
Union and cyber-libertarian "hacktivists" are correct, your fax or e-mail 
containing those words will have been intercepted by a sophisticated official 
electronic monitoring system called "Echelon." 

Echelon is a supersecret global surveillance network, run by the U.S. 
National Security Agency, in conjunction with the governments of Britain, 
Canada, Australia and New Zealand. 

Echelon is said to intercept and sift through countless electronic 
transmissions daily, filtering out those with particular "keywords" that 
could signal a security threat. The purloined posts are later analyzed. 

Hacktivists around the world have scheduled today as "Jam Echelon Day." 
They're encouraging computer users to flood the Internet with e-mails 
containing suspected keywords, hoping the deluge will short-circuit Echelon's 
computers and satellites. 

The public will never know if they succeed, but crashing Echelon is not 
really the point. The protest is meant to raise public awareness about the 
threat to privacy and civil liberties purportedly posed by the security 
network, which sounds like something out of the movie "Enemy of the State." 

Although the NSA will neither confirm nor deny Echelon's existence, too much 
information has leaked out (through official statements and partially 
declassified government documents) or has been uncovered by journalists and 
investigators to allow for plausible deniability. 

If reports, including a study by the European Parliament, are correct, 
Echelon was organized after World War II, chiefly as a way for participating 
countries to intercept Soviet communications. 

With the Russian threat gone, there is growing evidence and concern that 
Echelon is being used around the world for commercial espionage and keeping 
tabs on non-military targets - such as me and thee. 

Groups on both sides of the American political debate, from the ACLU on the 
left to the Free Congress Foundation on the right, allege that Echelon's 
technology and structure makes the unregulated monitoring of e-mails, faxes 
and phone calls possible - this despite laws requiring court permission to 
eavesdrop on private citizens. 

"The NSA does not have jurisdiction in the U.S., but the way the 
electronic-communications system is set up, I could send an e-mail to you, 
and it could be routed through Canada," explains Free Congress' Lisa Dean. 
"This puts the e-mail under NSA's jurisdiction." 

The potential for Echelon's abuse has so bothered Barr, a former CIA analyst, 
that he's pushing for congressional hearings. 

"My concern is that they are sweeping far too broadly," Barr tells me. "I 
believe that the rights of American citizens are being infringed. 

"The danger is that we have no privacy whatsoever. Whenever you pick up an 
instrument of communication, you run the risk of the government listening in 
to you." 

That claim is too far out for Steve Aftergood, who runs the Federation of 
American Scientists' government-secrecy research project. However overblown 
he considers the claims of Echelon alarmists, Aftergood supports Barr's call 
for hearings to establish oversight. 

"Unchecked monitoring and surveillance by the government poses a threat to 
freedom of dissent," he said. "Even if the whole Echelon story is a 
hallucination or a hoax, it is nevertheless the responsibility of Congress to 
get to the bottom of it." 


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