- 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
- "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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