Someone Is Listening
Every phone call you make, every email or fax you send may be monitored - and probably is.
Surprise!  It's our own government.

The ECHELON Pages are a public service of and Action America.










Back to Action America


What is ECHELON?

ECHELON is a global Communications Interception (COMINT) system created by the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand to routinely and indiscriminately monitor and record all forms of electronic communications worldwide (both military and civilian) and overseen by the National Security Agency (NSA).

The existence of ECHELON has been know for some time.  But, until recently, there was no solid evidence to support its existence.  That changed on March 16, 1999, when Martin Bradley, Director of the Australian COMINT agency, the Defense Signals Directorate (DSD) confirmed in a letter to Ross Coulthart, a reporter for the Sunday Program in New South Wales, that the "DSD does cooperate with counterpart signals intelligence organizations overseas under the UKUSA relationship."

This, of course raises the question, "What is UKUSA?"

The super-secret UKUSA Agreement was created in 1947, in the aftermath of World War II, between the UK and the USA.  Shortly after that, Canada, Australia and New Zealand signed the agreement as "Second Parties."  We now know that the purpose of the UKUSA agreement was to develop COMINT technologies and share COMINT data between signatory nations.  The bad part of this agreement was that the signatory nations granted each of the other nations permission to monitor themselves.

In the beginning, this monitoring was primarily confined to international telex and very limited international phone traffic.  But with the advent of satellite and microwave communications, they were no longer limited to just international communications and began monitoring domestic communications as well.  The cost of electronic communication dived and the traffic volume skyrocketed.  But, more recent digital communications and associated digital technologies like fax, email, optical character recognition (OCR) and digital analysis tools have actually made the interception and analysis process easier.  By 1992, according to the former Director of the NSA, Vice Admiral William Studeman, the NSA was intercepting more than TWO MILLION phone, fax, telex and email messages PER HOUR.

Think about that.  TWO MILLION MESSAGES PER HOUR.  That translates to 17.5 BILLION MESSAGES PER YEAR.

If every criminal conspirator and terrorist on earth were to make a dozen phone calls an hour, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, the number would be insignificant by comparison.  Some of YOUR personal phone calls were most certainly included in that 17.5 BILLION.  And, that was in 1992.  How many of YOUR personal phone calls have been intercepted since then?

Copyright 2002 John Gaver - All rights reserved.