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[infowar.de] Wired: auch Japan veraergert wegen Echelon
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nun werden offenbar auch die Japaner nervös, nachdem eine grosse
Tageszeitung dort von Nicky Hager mit Informationen über
US-Wirtschaftsspionage gegen japanische Firmen versorgt wurde (irgendwie
witzig - erinnert Ihr euch, als hier vor einigen Jahrzehnten immer die
Japaner auf den Messen mit kleinen Kameras rumliefen?).
Jedenfalls scheint die liberale US-Presse das zu nutzen, um auf die
möglichen Gefahren für die US-Beziehungen zu Europa _und_ Asien
hinzuweisen. Ob das etwas bringt? Hoffen wir es. Immerhin machen ACLU
und andere ja recht professionelle Lobbyarbeit in D.C., und insgesamt
gewinnt das Thema Privacy ja in den Staaten an öffentlichem Interesse.
(Dazu und zu - fehlenden - vergleichbaren Strukturen in Deutschland
hatten wir ja kürzlich erst eine kleine Debatte hier.)
Louder Call for Echelon Probe
By Steve Kettmann
9:00 a.m. June 27, 2001 PDT
BERLIN - Fresh outrage in Japan over alleged U.S. satellite-based
spying, coupled with European pressure on the same subject, could add
urgency to calls for Congress to engage in a serious investigation of
the so-called Echelon system.
Early next week, the European Parliament temporary committee
investigating Echelon is scheduled to vote in Strasbourg on its final
recommendations. It will call on the United States and international
bodies to take action to protect individual rights from intrusive
high-tech surveillance systems that can tap e-mail, faxes and phone
calls all over the world.
The international push for more accountability could have added
resonance now that a Japanese newspaper has reported that the so-called
Echelon system, reportedly operated by the U.S. National Security
Agency, has been tapping Japanese diplomatic communications for 20 years
to access economic information.
The article in the Mainichi newspaper cited the research of Nicky
Hagger, one of many experts on Echelon who testified before the European
Parliament committee during its year-long inquiry. The Japanese
controversy is likely to fuel arguments that Congress needs to look
seriously into the actions of agencies like Echelon or risk growing
diplomatic frictions with Europe and Japan.
"I've been in Japan twice in the last two years, and met both with
privacy activists and members of the Japanese Parliament," said Barry
Steinhardt, associate director of the New York office of the American
Civil Liberties Union, which maintains the echelonwatch.org website.
"Both the press in Japan and the opposition members are very concerned
about Echelon. There's a growing concern about the role of the U.S. and
U.S. intelligence agencies in Japan."
It's one more sign, he said, that it's time for the U.S. government to
get serious about owning up to its international responsibilities.
"What really needs to happen next is a committee of the U.S. Congress
that's not tied to the intelligence agencies needs to take a close look
at Echelon," he said. "They are the only ones with the subpoena power
and the security clearance to bring the NSA to the table. Only the U.S.
Congress has the capability to ferret out the truth.
"We all have foot-high stacks of documents, but they don't tell you
much, because they are mostly a series of blacked-out documents. We need
the equivalent of the Church Committee, which investigated the NSA and
the other intelligence agencies in the 1970s."
John Young, a privacy activist in New York whose website features
frequent updates on Echelon, agrees that much more needs to be done to
bring intelligence agencies' activities to some kind of accountability.
The European Parliament Echelon committee was a useful start, he said,
in that it helped raise public awareness of Echelon and other
technologies used by intelligence agencies.
But, he said, "We've got a long way to go."
"Journalists seem to be pursuing this more energetically. All that
helps. People tend to say more things. There are more people covering it
now, but I am personally pushing for more investigation of these other
technologies," he said.
"The European Parliament could do more based on its reports. If it
follows up on all these technologies, as it has for Echelon, that would
But any such investigation features limitations on its breadth, he
"You never get intelligence information in the public that is not at
least in part disinformation," he said. "They are not allowed to
disclose classified information. This is not paranoia. This is standard
intelligence services. The European Parliament is doing what government
organizations are obliged to do -- they put out comforting information.
The European Parliament will never attack other governments or
organizations. It's just not done."
The ACLU's Steinhardt got an up-close look at just how difficult it
can be to get the U.S. government to respond to calls for disclosure on
the system known as Echelon, which it reportedly operates in conjunction
with Great Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
He had just been talking to members of a visiting delegation from the
European Parliament Echelon committee last month in Washington when it
became clear that the delegation's meetings with the State Department,
the Commerce Department, the Central Intelligence Agency and the NSA had
all been abruptly cancelled.
"I happened to be meeting with the committee that day," Steinhardt
said. "It generated a lot of bad press for the U.S. in Europe. It's the
classic NSA response. They are only giving ground very grudgingly. The
U.S. stonewalled the committee, essentially."
He was surprised by how the Europeans reacted to that rebuff, he said.
"I'm disappointed that they didn't keep going, essentially, that they
let the stonewall by the United States end the inquiry," he said. "I
think they should have kept going."
But at some point, the onus is on the United States -- and so far, the
American public seems less concerned about high-tech spying than
"The idea that the United States government is eavesdropping on our
lives should be distressing to everyone, but few Americans even know
about it or are as riled up about it as our European neighbors," a
"security expert" named Robert Vamosi wrote in ZDNet.
But Steinhardt sees that changing in the United States.
"I think there's a greater and greater awareness of the capability of
law enforcement and intelligence agencies to engage in communication
surveillance, and an increasing wariness about the role of government,"
he said. "Poll after poll in the United States shows that people are
extraordinarily concerned about privacy."
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