4 February 1998
The full STOA report from which the excerpt below was taken, "An Appraisal of the Technologies of Political Control," is now available at: http://jya.com/stoa-atpc.htm (505K)
Zipped version: http://jya.com/stoa-atpc.zip (314K)
25 January 1998
Thanks to Axel Horns and Ulf Möller
[*] Added 26 January 1998:
It is Scientific and Technological Options Assessment (STOA) of the European Parliament offering the report, not British MEP Glyn Ford, who was its sponsor. For a hardcopy to be sent by mail, fax a request to STOA in Luxembourg:
No electronic version is available from STOA. Draft reports remain in paper format until finalized by the European Parliament, which may take a while.
STOA's publications web site was last updated in July 1996, and its rep apologized for the trailing-edge tech.
Subject: European Parliament on Communications Interceptions Networks To: firstname.lastname@example.org Date: Sun, 25 Jan 1998 21:45:02 +0100 (GMT+0100) From: email@example.com (Ulf Möller) John, Axel Horns scanned parts of a European Parliament document which may be of interest for your web site. [*]Printed copies are available from the staff of the British MEP Glyn Ford (tel +322 2843748 fax +322 2849059, firstname.lastname@example.org). The report covers - The Role & Function of Political Control Technologies - Recent Trends and Innovations - Developments in Surveillance Technologies - Innovations in Crowd Control Weapons - New Prison Control Systems - Interrogation, Torture Techniques and Technologies - Regulation of Horizontal Proliferation - Further Research ------------ BEGIN QUOTED TEXT ------------------ AN APPRAISAL OF TECHNOLOGIES OF POLITICAL CONTROL Scientific and Technological Options Assessment STOA Working Document (Consultation version) PE 166 499 Luxembourg, 6 January 1998 [...] Editor: Mr. Dick Holdsworth This is a working document. The current version is being circulated for consultation. It is not an official publication of STOA or of the European Parliament. This document does not necessarily represent the views of the European Parliament. [...] 4.4 National & International Communications Interceptions Networks Modern communications systems are virtually transparent to the advanced interceptions equipment which can be used to listen in. Some systems even lend themselves to a dual role as a national interceptions network. For example the message switching system used on digital exchanges like System X in the UK supports an Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN) Protocol. This allows digital devices, e.g. fax to share the system with existing lines. The ISDN subset is defined in their documents as "Signalling CCITT1-series interface for ISDN access". What is not widely known is that built in to the international CCITT protocol is the ability to take phones 'off hook' and listen into conversations occurring near the phone, without the user being aware that it is happening. (SGR Newsletter, No.4, 1993) This effectively means that a national dial up telephone tapping capacity is built into these systems from the start. (System X has been exported to Russia & China) Similarly, the digital technology required to pinpoint mobile phone users for incoming calls, means that all mobile phone users in a country when activated, are mini-tracking devices, giving their owners whereabouts at any time and stored in the company's computer for up to two years. Coupled with System X technology, this is a custom built mobile track, tail and tap system par excellence. (Sunday Telegraph, 2.2.97). Within Europe, all email, telephone and fax communications are routinely intercepted by the United States National Security Agency, transferring all target information from the European mainland via the strategic hub of London then by satellite to Fort Meade in Maryland via the crucial hub at Menwith Hill in the North York Moors of the UK. The system was first uncovered in the 1970's by a group of researchers in the UK (Campbell, 1981). The researchers used open sources but were subsequently arrested under Britain's Official Secrets legislation. The 'ABC' trial that followed was a critical turning point in researcher's understanding both of the technology of political control and how it might be challenged by research on open sources.(See Aubrey, 1981 & Hooper 1987) Other work on what is now known as signals intelligence was undertaken by researchers such as James Bamford, which uncovered a billion dollar world wide interceptions network, which he nicknamed 'Puzzle Palace'. A recent work by Nicky Hager, Secret Power, (Hager,1996) provides the most comprehensive details to date of a project known as ECHELON. Hager interviewed more than 50 people concerned with intelligence to document a global surveillance system that stretches around the world to form a targeting system on all of the key Intelsat satellites used to convey most of the world's satellite phone calls, Internet, email, faxes and telexes. These sites are based at Sugar Grove and Yakima, in the USA, at Waihopai in New Zealand, at Geraldton in Australia, Hong Kong, and Morwenstow in the UK. The ECHELON system forms part of the UKUSA system but unlike many of the electronic spy systems developed during the cold war, ECHELON is designed for primarily non- military targets: governments, organisations and businesses in virtually every country. The ECHELON system works by indiscriminately intercepting very large quantities of communications and then siphoning out what is valuable using artificial intelligence aids like Memex to find key words. Five nations share the results with the US as the senior partner under the UKUSA agreement of 1948. Britain, Canada, New Zealand and Australia are very much acting as subordinate information servicers. Each of the five centres supply "dictionaries" to the other four of keywords, phrases, people and places to "tag" and the tagged intercept is forwarded straight to the requesting country. Whilst there is much information gathered about potential terrorists, there is a lot of economic intelligence, notably intensive monitoring of all the countries participating in the GATT negotiations. But Hager found that by far the main priorities of this system continued to be military and political intelligence applicable to their wider interests. Hager quotes from a "highly placed intelligence operatives" who spoke to the Observer in London. "We feel we can no longer remain silent regarding that which we regard to be gross malpractice and negligence within the establishment in which we operate." They gave as examples GCHQ interception of three charities, including Amnesty International and Christian Aid. "At any time GCHQ is able to home in on their communications for a routine target request," the GCHQ source said. In the case of phone taps the procedure is known as Mantis. With telexes its called Mayfly. By keying in a code relating to third world aid, the source was able to demonstrate telex "fixes" on the three organisations. With no system of accountability, it is difficult to discover what criteria determine who is not a target. In February, The UK-based research publication Statewatch reported that the EU had secretly agreed to set up an international telephone tapping network via a secret network of committees established under the "third pillar" of the Mastricht Treaty covering co-operation on law and order. Key points of the plan are outlined in a memorandum of understanding, signed by EU states in 1995.(ENFOPOL 112 10037/95 25.10.95) which remains classified. According to a Guardian report (25.2.97) it reflects concern among European Intelligence agencies that modern technology will prevent them from tapping private communications. "EU countries it says, should agree on "international interception standards set at a level that would ensure encoding or scrambled words can be broken down by government agencies." Official reports say that the EU governments agreed to co-operate closely with the FBI in Washington. Yet earlier minutes of these meetings suggest that the original initiative came from Washington. According to Statewatch, network and service providers in the EU will be obliged to install "tappable" systems and to place under surveillance any person or group when served with an interception order. These plans have never been referred to any European government for scrutiny, nor one suspects to the Civil Liberties Committee of the European Parliament, despite the clear civil liberties issues raised by such an unaccountable system. We are told that the USA, Australia, Canada, Norway and Hong Kong are ready to sign up. All these but Norway are parties to the ECHELON system and it is impossible to determine if there are not other agendas at work here. Nothing is said about finance of this system but a report produced by the German government estimates that the mobile phone part of the package alone will cost 4 billion D-marks. Statewatch concludes that "It is the interface of the ECHELON system and its potential development on phone calls combined with the standardisation of "tappable communications centres and equipment being sponsored by the EU and the USA which presents a truly global threat over which there are no legal or democratic controls."(Press release 25.2.97) Clearly, there needs to be a wide ranging debate on the significance of these proposals before further any further political or financial commitments are made. The following recommendations have that objective in mind. 4. RECOMMENDATIONS (i) All surveillance technologies, operations and practices should be subject to procedures to ensure democratic accountability and there should be proper codes of practice to ensure redress if malpractice or abuse takes place. Explicit criteria should be agreed for deciding who should be targeted for surveillance and who should not, how such data is stored, processed and shared. Such criteria and associated codes of practice should be made publicity available. (ii) All requisite codes of practice should ensure that new surveillance technologies are brought within the appropriate data protection legislation. (iii) Given that data from most digital monitoring systems can be seemlessly edited, new guidance should be provided on what constitutes admissible evidence. This concern is particularly relevant to automatic identification systems which will need to take cognisance of the provisions of Article 15, of the 1995 European Directive on the Protection of Individuals and Processing of Personal Data. (iv) Regulations should be developed covering the provision of electronic bugging and tapping devices to private citizens and companies, so that their sale is governed by legal permission rather than self-regulation. (v) Use of telephone interception by Member states should be subject to procedures of public accountability referred to in (i) above. Before any telephone interception takes place a warrant should be obtained in a manner prescribed by the relevant parliament. In most cases, law enforcement agencies will not be permitted to self- authorise interception except in the most unusual of circumstances which should be reported back to the authorising authority at the earliest opportunity. (vi) Annual statistics on interception should be reported to each member states' parliament. These statistics should provide comprehensive details of the actual number of communication devices intercepted and data should be not be aggregated. (This is to avoid the statistics only identifying the number of warrants, issued whereas organisations under surveillance may have many hundreds of members, all of whose phones may be subject to interception). (vii) Technologies facilitating the automatic profiling and pattern analysis of telephone calls to establish friendship and contact networks should be subject to the same legal requirements as those for telephone interception and reported to the relevant member state parliament. (viii) The European Parliament should reject proposals from the United States for making private messages via the global communications network (Internet) accessible to US Intelligence Agencies. Nor should the Parliament agree to new expensive encryption controls without a wide ranging debate within the EU on the implications of such measures. These encompass the civil and human rights of European citizens and the commercial rights of companies to operate within the law, without unwarranted surveillance by intelligence agencies operating in conjunction with multinational competitors. (ix) The Committee should commission a more detailed report on the constitutional issues raised by the National Security Agency (NSA) facility to intercept all European telecommunications and the impact this supervisory capacity has on a) any existing constitutional safeguards protecting individuals or organisations from invasion of privacy such as those extant for example in Germany, b) the political, cultural and economic autonomy of European member states. This report should also cover the social and political implications of the EU/FBI proposals made to operate a global telecommunications surveillance network as discussed above. This report should also analyse the financial and constitutional implications of the proposals and provide an update of the work undertaken so far and the status of political approval. (x) Relevant committees of the European Parliament considering proposals for technologies which have civil liberties implications, for example the Telecommunications Committee in regard to surveillance, should be required to forward all relevant policy proposals and reports to the Civil Liberties Committee for their observations in advance of any political or financial decisions on deployment being taken.