The Echelon Affair: The EP and the global interception system 1998 - 2002

04-11-2014

During the second half of the 1990s press and media reports revealed the existence of the Echelon network. This system for intercepting private and economic communications was developed and managed by the states that had signed the UKUSA and was characterised by its powers and the range of communications targeted: surveillance was directed against not only military organisations and installations but also governments, international organisations and companies throughout the world. This study recounts the uncovering of the network, notably through the STOA investigations, questions by MEPs, debates in plenary, the setting up of a temporary committee and the final position adopted by the European Parliament. It also takes account of statements by researchers and journalists on the technical aspects and legal implications of the Echelon network. Finally, it considers the views of the political groups in the European Parliament and of the Commission and Council. Fifteen years after the events, The Echelon Affair draws on the European Parliament’s archives to describe and analyse a worldwide scandal which had an impact on the history of Parliament and which today is echoed in the revelations of Edward Snowden and Julian Assange and in other cases of spying on a grand scale.

During the second half of the 1990s press and media reports revealed the existence of the Echelon network. This system for intercepting private and economic communications was developed and managed by the states that had signed the UKUSA and was characterised by its powers and the range of communications targeted: surveillance was directed against not only military organisations and installations but also governments, international organisations and companies throughout the world. This study recounts the uncovering of the network, notably through the STOA investigations, questions by MEPs, debates in plenary, the setting up of a temporary committee and the final position adopted by the European Parliament. It also takes account of statements by researchers and journalists on the technical aspects and legal implications of the Echelon network. Finally, it considers the views of the political groups in the European Parliament and of the Commission and Council. Fifteen years after the events, The Echelon Affair draws on the European Parliament’s archives to describe and analyse a worldwide scandal which had an impact on the history of Parliament and which today is echoed in the revelations of Edward Snowden and Julian Assange and in other cases of spying on a grand scale.