The network is so secret that the British and American Governments refuse to admit that Echelon evenexists. But another ally, Australia, has decided not to be so coy.The man who oversees Australia's security services, Inspector General of Intelligence and Security BillBlick, has confirmed to the BBC that their Defence Signals Directorate (DSD) does form part of thenetwork. "As you would expect there are a large amount of radio communications floating around inthe atmosphere, and agencies such as DSD collect those communications in the interests of their national security", he said. Asked if they are then passed on to countries like Britain and America, hesaid: "They might be in certain circumstances." But the system is so widespread all sorts of privatecommunications, often of a sensitive commercial nature, are hoovered up and analysed.Journalist Duncan Campbell has spent much of his life investigating Echelon. In a report commissioned by the European Parliament he produced evidence that the NSA snooped on phone calls from a Frenchfirm bidding for a contract in Brazil. They passed the information on to an American competitor, whichwon the contract. "There's no safeguards, no remedies, " he said, "There's nowhere you can go to saythat they've been snooping on your international communications. Its a totally lawless world."
Breaking the silence
Both Britain and America deny allegations like this, though they refuse to comment further. But oneformer US army intelligence officer has broken the code of silence.Colonel Dan Smith told the BBC that while this is feasible, it is not official policy: "Technically theycan scoop all this information up, sort through it, and find what it is that might be asked for," he said."But there is no policy to do this specifically in response to a particular company's interests."Legislators on both sides of the Atlantic are beginning to sit up and take notice. RepublicanCongressman Bob Barr has persuaded congress to open hearings into these and other allegations.In December he is coming to Britain to raise awareness of the issue. In an interview with the BBC heaccused the NSA of conducting a broad "dragnet" of communications, and "invading the privacy of American citizens." He is joined in his concerns by a small number of politicians In Britain. LiberalDemocrat MP Norman Baker has tabled a series of questions about Menwith Hill, but has been metwith a wall of silence. "There's no doubt it's being used as a listening centre," he said, "There's no doubtit's being used for US interests, and I'm not convinced that Britain's interests are being best served bythis."http://searchsecurity.techtarget.com/definition/EchelonEchelon is an officially unacknowledged U.S.-led global spy network that operates an automatedsystem for the interception and relay of electronic communications. Monitored transmissions are said toinclude up to 3 billion communications daily, including all the telephone calls, e-mail messages, faxes,satellite transmissions, and Internet downloads of both public and private organizations and citizensworldwide. Led by the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA), Echelon is operated collaboratively bythe intelligence agencies of the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, and NewZealand. The organization's name originated as the code name for the system component responsiblefor interceptingsatellite communications.