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Home > Privacy and Government > Government Threats to Privacy > Surveillance > International Surveillance Programs > Echelon


Echelon is a project of the United Statesí National Security Agency (NSA). It is a worldwide network for intercepting communications that made headlines in February 1998 when a report from an arm of the European Parliament revealed that telephone, fax, and e-mail traffic in several parts of the world were routinely intercepted.

The NSA has many partners. In England, the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) takes part. In Australia, it is the Defence Signals Directorate (DSD). In Canada, the Communications Security Establishment (CSE) is the Echelon affiliate, and in New Zealand the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) does its part. Other countries involved with Echelon include Germany, Japan, Norway, South Korea, Turkey, China, and the Netherlands.

Communications outside the United States are not subject to the Fourth Amendmentís privacy protections. Investigators can snoop on our international phone calls without technically violating our legal rights. Whether they violate our privacy is another question entirely, of course.


Making Up the Rules: Interception versus Privacy Buro Jansen & Janssen / Eurowatch (2000)

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[updated 9/18/00]

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