Echelon: What do the Teeming Millions think?

From the website of the Federation of American Scientists (Click here to see article ):

A few questions:

How informed are you about Echelon? Have actively researched it, have read a full length article about it, have heard it mentioned somethere, rings a bell, or you don’t know what I’m talking about?

If you are, how often do you stop to think about it when composing electronic communications? Always, often, sometimes, seldom, or never?

How much does the idea bother you? Do you find it to be actually threatening, intensely disturbing, vaguely disquieting, mildly troublesome, or not a worry?

Has the idea of Echelon ever inhibited you from saying something on the telephone or writing something in an e-mail or on the Internet? Yes or no?

If you had something sensitive to discuss with someone in another city–legal problems or financial matters, for example–how worried would you be about the possibility that the government (and specifically the government) might be listening in? On an ascending scale of 1 through 5?

Hope y’all don’t mind this poll format,

Doghouse Reilly (not my real name)

yeah, so it infringes on my personal freedom. but i can’t remember the last time i said “nsa” “cia” or “fbi” over email, fax, or phone. i do nothing wrong, i don’t have to worry.

A little paranoid, aren’t we?

This source should explain ECHELON system better.

To answer your questions in order…

  1. Not until now.

  2. Never.

  3. It is a little troublesome that ECHELON can intercept electronic communications, but since ECHELON only intercept satellite transmissions, and I don’t do international transactions, I’m not worried.

  4. See answer above.

  5. On a scale of 1 though 5, a 1.

Smile, it makes people wonder what you are thinking.
Fun with HTML (tutoral)
Give someone an F.U.

Louie, you said:

In response, and to quote from the link you yourself posted:

I was under the impression that microwave transmissions carry a substantial portion of domestic ground-based calls. For this reason, based on the quote above, such calls should be susceptible to interception by ECHELON. Any phone company people care to confirm or deny my impression here?


untermensch said:

Until just now, you mean?


and doncha know it that as soon as i sent that out, 3 unmarked cars pulled up outside my place, 6 men in black got out, burst in my door, smashed all my cds, took my computer, and spray painted gang signs all over my walls…luckily i was hiding so they weren’t able to take me to their ufo (which transported my computer away). while they were talking (i don’t know why they were) one of them said something about killing JFK. for having such a iron grip on communication in the world, they sure don’t know how to stifle amongst themselves.

<url=>Still sleeping well, boys and girls?</url>

Condescending irony comes across better when the links work. Let’s try again:

Still sleeping well, boys and girls?

It used to be quite high, but it is decreasing as fiber further penetrates the U.S., including often to tier II and tier III cities. All the big phone companies that I know of are desperately trying to make microwave go away. Not because they value our privacy, you understand, but because they value our money and we insist on higher transmission quality and wider bandwidth than we used to (paradoxically, there are a few phone companies looking to microwave for local telephony, as opposed to the LD that is the traditional use for microwave). I’ll ask around for percentages.

Livin’ on Tums, Vitamin E and Rogaine

The American Civil Liberties Union has more information on this at their Echelon watch web site. The ACLU is currently urging Congress to investigate this issue in more detail. So far, the NSA, claiming attorney-client privilege, has refused to deliver any documents concerning the operating standards for intelligence systems like Echelon.

La franchise ne consiste pas à dire tout ce que l’on pense, mais à penser tout ce que l’on dit.
H. de Livry

Since I’m not a spy, involved in covert drug activities, an embezzler or corporate hatchet man, I don’t worry about it. I am smart enough to know that if I were to do anything that might get me in trouble with the law to not leave a paper or electronic trail. Every website, no matter what screen name I select once there, has my original screen name as well as the time I got there and my provider address and the time I left. Anonymous websites only mean that they will not automatically post your real screen name on any message board you use. Plus, no matter what they say on television, even the best hacker leaves a trail on any computer he uses, even if he sends his crap through a whole bunch of them, but it takes a lot of laborious work to dig him out.

One safe thing to do is to delete and overwrite your hard drive several times if you have anything on it you might not want found, but, in doing so, you remove everything else. Of course, if you used e-mail, then whatever computer you sent it to will have a record of it, even if it was deleted because deleting only removes its hard drive location address. Most ISPs, when you sign on, dump automatically all e-mail and stuff onto your drive for you to retrieve, I think, and that means that they still retain a ‘ghost’ copy. Eventually, it will be overwritten by someone elses e-mail using that section, but that might take a while.

“Think of it as Evolution in action.”

Say, for the sake of argument, that the government really is compiling a dossier on you and your private communications. As long as you haven’t done anything illegal, you say you don’t worry. But let me ask: have you ever contributed to a political party? Or been friends with a prominent public figure? Do you have any close friends or family who might ever be active in politics or who might get in trouble with the law? Does your livelihood depend on your maintaining a professional, ethical reputation? Do you enjoy the prospect of a tax audit?

Good heavens, is public education so shoddy now that we can’t even remember as far back as the McCarthy era? Back in the 1930s, for example, I understand that many educated people were attracted to communism as a political alternative, and that didn’t much of a social stigma at the time. But twenty years later, a change in the political climate had Senator Joe and his henchmen asking, “Are you now, or have you ever been, a member of the Communist party?” And nobody ever said that being a communist was illegal, even then. Maybe it sounds like a joke now, but a lot of lives were certainly ruined.

But now, perhaps, an accusation doesn’t even need to be made–your life is all recorded on tape and computer disk, right?

As I said, boys and girls, sleep well.


Am I the only person who is not surprised in the slightest that this is happening? I never suspected otherwise. I just go about my merry way knowing that many, many people know everything I do at all times.
My feeling is that it has probably been going on all my life in one form or another and there is no way to stop it. Actually, I tend to feel that it’s the people who suddenly “realize” it is happening who are the ones that “mysterious” things happen to.
Of course I don’t work for the NSA…what a silly question…why do you ask…

The margarine of evil

Even tho most of you have no skeletons in your closets, and of course I as well, I do not feel comfortable having an entity unbeknownst to me “listening” to what I have written or what I have to say to someone. In conclusion, I am concerned. It can only get worse to where are “freedom” is really impinged upon. I can’t believe I’m writing this because I have never been happy with the ACLU in general.

Replace “are” with “our” in my previous comment.

Replace “are” with “our” in my previous comment.