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Dutch government: Echelon eavesdropping system exists
(IDG) -- A public hearing in the Dutch Parliament Monday is discussing the eavesdropping system Echelon, which is widely reputed to clandestinely monitor global telecommunications traffic at the behest of the United States and other English-speaking countries.
A letter from the Dutch Defense Ministry to the Parliament Friday effectively acknowledged the existence of the system, though none of the governments believed to be involved -- including the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand -- has officially admitted to its existence. Other countries are concerned that the system is being used for industrial espionage, allegations the U.S. and U.K. governments have rejected.
"The Dutch government does not have access to confirmed information about the existence of Echelon from the governments that have been named in connection with it; however, this can be assumed due to currently available information, studies, and public sources," the ministry said in a statement.
The ministry referred to investigations of Echelon undertaken by the Belgian and French parliaments, as well as to a special temporary committee set up last year by the European Parliament.
The ministry's letter went on to warn that communications networks are at risk of monitoring not only by state agencies, but also by private citizens, businesses and organized crime.
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