Ethics and Law in New Media/The Big Brother on Menwith Hill

Read the “Inside Echelon” by Duncan Campbell. Write a blog opinion about the present situation of the system, what it is used for and how it can influence the global community. You can also draw a couple of hypothetical scenarios (what if…).

I found the article quite interesting firs of all because I have never heard about Echelon. You would think that the systems like that could exist only in the fantasy movies… But here they are, functioning almost for 50 years. I wouldn’t even think that there was a need to control private messages and phone calls, but based on the examples like the one with Airbus company, I really get the point. It’s all about the money…

This is so cool!:

One major US sigint base – Kagnew Station at Asmara in Eritrea – was taken over from the British in 1941 and grew to become, until its closure in 1970, one of the largest intercept stations in the world. One of its more spectacular features was a tracking dish used to pass messages to the United States by reflecting them off the surface of the moon.

Talking about the present situation of the system. There is a goof description in the end of the article:

In the information age, we need to re-learn a lesson now a century old. Despite the sophistication of 21st century technology, today’s e-mails are as open to the eyes of snoopers and intruders as were the first crude radio telegraph messages. Part of the reason for this is that, over many decades, NSA and its allies worked determinedly to limit and prevent the privacy of international telecommunications. Their goal was to keep communications unencrypted and, thus, open to easy access and processing by systems like Echelon. They knew that privacy and security, then as a century ago, lay in secret codes or encryption. Until such protections become effective and ubiquitous, Echelon or systems like it, will remain with us.

I read in wiki that the system may control up to 3 million messages per day, but only in the US there are 4 million phone calls per day. So if the know date is right the control is not so overwhelming.  I suppose, that the simple people, like me, are left out. Or at least I hope so.

Anyway talking about the future may be a bit worrying having in account the speed of technology development. You here those news about electronic chips that should be implanted into our bodies some day in the future and you just can’t stop thinking that the world is suspiciously becoming more and more similar to the one described in Aldous Huxley’s masterpiece Brave New World. That is really scary!

One of the, I hope, still not very realistic visions is presented in Greg Marcks‘  movie Echelon Conspiracy (2009):





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