The Search For Echelon

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Date: Monday, February 1st, 1999, 00:00
Category: Archive


For several years now, members of the hacker underground have been talking about the possible existence of a secret government spy network known as Echelon. Supposedly operated by the US National Security Agency (NSA), the alleged worldwide computer spy network reportedly scans all email, packet traffic, telephone conversations around the world, in an effort to find potential terrorist or enemy communications. Once various keywords are detected a recording of the conversation or email in question is triggered.

On 21 October, a group of activists orginating on the “hacktivist” mailing list hope to to trip up Echelon on a much wider scale. Use of various keywords such as the following will supposedly activate the spy network, and according to the hactivists, overwhelm its capabilities if everyone is using the keywords in email:

FBI CIA NSA IRS ATF BATF DOD WACO RUBY RIDGE OKC OKLAHOMA CITY MILITIA GUN HANDGUN ASSAULT RIFLE TERRORISM BOMB DRUG KORESH SPECIAL FORCES CLINTON GORE

Neither the NSA, nor its UK equivalent — the Government Communications Headquarters — has admitted that the system exists, although its capabilities have been debated in the European Parliament.

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