Latest On ECHELON -
'Billions Of Messages
Per Hour' Intercepted
By Constant Brand - AP Write

BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) - A U.S.-led communications monitoring network is intercepting "billions of messages per hour" including telephone calls, fax transmissions and private e-mails, according to a European Parliament report made public Wednesday.
"We are not talking about a trivial thing here ... we cannot stop them, they will continue," said Ducan Campbell, author of the special parliament-commissioned report on the Echelon spy-network.
Campbell said that the intelligence network monitors and intercepts sensitive European-wide commercial communications. "The level of use is getting out of control," he told a packed hearing of the Parliament's Committee for Justice and Home Affairs.
He said Canada, Britain, Australia and New Zealand are also involved in Echelon. Other nations including France and Germany also participate in a lower level in the spy-network which dates back 50 years to the beginning of the Cold War.
"The capacity of the filtering systems is enormous," Campbell said. He added that most international internet communications are being routed through the United States and through nine known U.S. National Security Agency interception sites.
Intelligence facilities located in the five countries can intercept fax, e-mail or telephone communications easily he said. Campbell urged the European Union to take action to protect against unwanted interception of communications, which he said were violations of human rights.
Committee chairman Graham Watson said he wanted to be sure the international surveillance system was not abusing its powers.
Campbell said Microsoft, IBM, and a certain "large American microchip maker" were providing certain product features which allow the interception of information flow.
Campbell said he did not know whether the U.S. corporations were benefitting from the information gathering but said previous commercial espionage resulted in the collapse of several European contracts in the airline industry - both military and commercial.


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