- Mossad. Bomb. Davidian. MI5.
- If the hunch of a loose-knit group of cyber-activists
is correct, the above words will trip the keyword recognition filter on
a global spy system partly managed by the US National Security Agency.
- The near-mythical worldwide computer spy network reportedly
scans all email, packet traffic, telephone conversations -- and more --
around the world, in an effort to ferret out potential terrorist or enemy
- Once plucked from the electronic cloud, certain keywords
allegedly trigger a recording of the conversation or email in question.
- Privacy activists have used the words in their signature
files for years as a running schtick, but on 21 October, a group of activists
orginating on the "hacktivist" mailing list hope to to trip up
Echelon on a much wider scale.
- "What is [Echelon] good for?" asked Linda Thompson,
a constitutional rights attorney and chairman of the American Justice Federation.
- "If you want to say we can catch criminals with
it, it is insane that anyone should be able to snoop on anyone's conversations."
- "Criminals ought to be caught after they commit
a crime -- but police are not here to invade all our privacy to catch that
two percent [of criminal communications]," she said.
- A 1994 report by the Anti-Defamation League described
Thompson as "an influential figure in the militia movement nationally."
The report says the American Justice Federation describes itself as "a
group dedicated to stopping the New World Order and getting the truth out
to the American public."
- The Anti-Defamation League says Thompson claims to have
contact with militias in all 50 states.
- On 21 October, Thompson, along with Doug McIntosh, a
reporter for the federation's news service, and members of the hacktivism
mailing list community, invite anyone concerned about the system to append
a list of intr iguing words to their emails.
- Specifically, they suggest the following keywords:
- FBI CIA NSA IRS ATF BATF DOD WACO RUBY RIDGE OKC OKLAHOMA
CITY MILITIA GUN HANDGUN MILGOV ASSAULT RIFLE TERRORISM BOMB DRUG HORIUCHI
KORESH DAVIDIAN KAHL POSSE COMITATUS RANDY WEAVER VICKIE WEAVER SPECIAL
FORCES LINDA THOMPSON SPECIAL OPERATIONS GROUP SOG SOF DELTA FORCE CONSTITUTION
BILL OF RIGHTS WHITEWATER POM PARK ON METER ARKANSIDE IRAN CONTRAS OLIVER
NORTH VINCE FOSTER PROMIS MOSSAD NASA MI5 ONI CID AK47 M16 C4 MALCOLM X
REVOLUTION CHEROKEE HILLARY BILL CLINTON GORE GEORGE BUSH WACKENHUT TERRORIST
TASK FORCE 160 SPECIAL OPS 12TH GROUP 5TH GROUP SF
- The campaign has spread around the Net and has been translated
into German. Organizers hope "gag Echelon day" catches on on
a global scale as a means of raising awareness of the system.
- Neither the NSA, nor its UK equivalent -- the Government
Communications Headquarters -- has admitted that the system exists, although
its capabilities have been debated in the European Parliament.
- Australia's Defense Signals Directorate, an agency allegedly
involved in Echelon, recently admitted the existence of UKUSA, the agreement
between five national communications agencies that reportedly governs the
- Last fall, the Washington-based civil liberties group
Free Congress Foundation sent a detailed report on the system to Congress,
but the system was not debated.
- The latest effort hopes to further boost public awareness
of the system.
- "Most people are angry about it," said Thompson.
"When you find out it is not some science fiction movie, most people
will be outraged."
- But an Australian member of the activist community hopes
that "jam Echelon day" will be about public awareness of technologies
of political control, not about generating paranoia.
- "Public awareness should empower -- not scare people
aware from using the Net," the activist, who identified himself only
as Sam, said.
- Editor's Note: This Story has been corrected. The Jam
Echelon Day project will be held 21 October, and coordinated by members
of the Hacktivism mailing list. The article had incorrectly suggested that
the American Justice Federation had organized the event. Wired News regrets