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Big Brother Reading Your Emails?

Posted On December 17, 2011 at 1:33 am by / No Comments

Big Brother Reading Your Emails?

There have been numerous rumors of a government run satellite network called Echelon that is designed to intercept international electronic communications such as email and the Internet. The program, also said to be used in Britain is a massive electronic intercept program that scans all Internet traffic, cell phone conversations, faxes, and long-distance phone calls. The program is said to be on the lookout for evidence of terrorist activity, military threats, and transnational crime. Although the pursuit of this is seemingly worthwhile, most of the people who are scanned include average Americans and nationals like you and I, not actual threats to society.

How Echelon Works

Echelon is an advanced system that allows the NSA to monitor most any communications happening between two people. It contains intercept stations that are positioned around the world that capture all satellite, microwave, cellular and fiber-optic communications traffic. It then processes all of this data through high bandwidth computers and looks for signs of foul play and flags them for future analysis. The system has advanced voice recognition and optical character recognition that looks for code words of phrases that prompt the computer to flag messages for transcribing. Intelligence analysts who have the job of reviewing the data analyze the conversations or documents that are flagged by the system and forward the messages to the respective intelligence agency that requested the intercept.

What It Means to Your Privacy

The filtering process that is used by Echelon looks for keywords such as bomb, gun, militia and the like. As many non-criminal people might use these words in a harmless message it is still unknown whether Echelon can distinguish between messages that are sent by real threats or by law-abiding citizens. The chances of a law-abiding citizen becoming the center of attention for the NSA are small although possible. The harsh truth is that the NSA has placed a very large ear to the ground to catch suspicious people and has invaded the privacy of law-abiding citizens like you and I to do it.

Needed Watchdog or Foul Play?

Although some could argue that the Echelon program is harmless in its approach to invasion of privacy people other than terrorists and criminals would likely disagree. The technology used to scan our communications indicates the possibility that innocent people may be targeted and that the spying that takes place exceeds legal boundaries. Privacy activists are angered as the intelligence agency is making claims that it is policing itself. The question then becomes who will guard the guards?

What are your thoughts?

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