North American Network Operators Group|
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So what is the real story here? Is all, most, some of our international Internet traffic being intercepted by various governments? Is it only international traffic that is at issue or is domestic traffic within the US subject to routine eavesdropping without a court order?
For years I've been telling people that while there was some risk that traffic on the Internet could be intercepted, that the risk was greatest at the ends of a connection and that as long as they were working with a reputable ISP that there was almost no risk that anyone was eavesdropping on the traffic from the more central networks. I've also been telling people that data "at rest" on disks or stored in servers is much more at risk than data "in motion" as it moves across the Internet. Have I been misleading people?
From http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/ap/20000223/wl/eu_espionage_1.html Wednesday February 23 9:50 AM ET Report Details Vast Spy Network By CONSTANT BRAND Associated Press Writer BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) - A U.S.-led communications monitoring network is intercepting ``billions of messages per hour'' including telephone calls, fax transmissions and private e-mails, according to a European Parliament report made public Wednesday. ``We are not talking about a trivial thing here ... we cannot stop them, they will continue,'' said Ducan Campbell, author of the special parliament-commissioned report on the Echelon spy-network. Campbell said that the intelligence network monitors and intercepts sensitive European-wide commercial communications. ``The level of use is getting out of control,'' he told a packed hearing of the Parliament's Committee for Justice and Home Affairs. He said Canada, Britain, Australia and New Zealand are also involved in Echelon. Other nations including France and Germany also participate in a lower level in the spy-network which dates back 50 years to the beginning of the Cold War. ``The capacity of the filtering systems is enormous,'' Campbell said. He added that most international internet communications are being routed through the United States and through nine known U.S. National Security Agency interception sites. Intelligence facilities located in the five countries can intercept fax, e-mail or telephone communications easily he said. Campbell urged the European Union to take action to protect against unwanted interception of communications, which he said were violations of human rights. Committee chairman Graham Watson said he wanted to be sure the international surveillance system was not abusing its powers. Campbell said Microsoft, IBM, and a certain ``large American microchip maker'' were providing certain product features which allow the interception of information flow. Campbell said he did not know whether the U.S. corporations were benefitting from the information gathering but said previous commercial espionage resulted in the collapse of several European contracts in the airline industry - both military and commercial.