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European Parliament delays decision on Echelon

IDG.net

March 31, 2000
Web posted at: 8:26 a.m. EST (1326 GMT)

(IDG) -- The European Parliament has decided to put off until April 6 a decision on whether to set up a special Committee of Inquiry into allegations that Echelon, the U.S.-backed satellite surveillance system, is spying on European industry.

While sources expected the EU to take the decision Thursday, the European Parliament delayed a final vote following a debate during which European Information Society Commissioner Erkki Liikanen explained that he had received written assurances from the U.S. Department of State that Echelon had never been involved in industrial espionage.

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"Further, the letter states that the United States government and the intelligence community do not collect proprietary commercial, technical or financial information for the benefit of private firms," according to Liikanen.

Echelon is a network of supercomputers and satellites run by the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) and located in the U.S., the U.K., Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

Set up during the Cold War, Echelon now reportedly focuses on fighting terrorism, money laundering and drug trafficking. The system is, however, said to be capable of eavesdropping on all forms of electronic communications.



RELATED STORIES:
Technology - Is the U.S. stealing trade secrets from the EU?
March 27, 2000
Spy agency tells Congress it is breaking no law
January 29, 2000
NSA grapples with Linux security
January 18, 2000
Echelon: The skies have ears
December 30, 1999

RELATED IDG.net STORIES:
Is U.S. industry spying on the E.U.?
(IDG.net)
Digital spies are watching you
(PC World Online)
NSA moves to defuse Echelon controversy
(Federal Computer Week)
Echelon: The skies have ears
(IDG.net)
DoD spots glitch in satellite intelligence system
(InfoWorld.com)

RELATED SITES:
National Security Agency
ACLU's Echelon Watch

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