UK-USA: 1948 UK-USA agreement and ECHELON states behind "Server in the Sky" project

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Press coverage reporting that the FBI is seeking to set up a global alliance to target suspected terrorists and criminals has not so far noted the historical origins of "Server in the Sky" project to collect and exchange personal biometrics and data. The group behind the initiative is the "International Information Consortium" comprised of the USA, UK, Australia, Canada and New Zealand. The same five states started intelligence gathering in the Cold War era under the 1948 UKUSA agreement which set up a global monitoring system led by the NSA (USA) and Government Communications HQ in the UK (GCHQ).

And the very same five states set up the ECHELON surveillance system in the 1980s which extended communications gathering on a huge scale from military objectives to political and economic targets by trawling the ether for keywords, phrases and groups.

Tony Bunyan, Statewatch editor, comments:

"The USA and the UK have been running global surveillance systems since the start of the Cold War through the NSA and GCHQ and their scope was extended by the ECHELON system in the 1980s. For nearly 60 years, since 1948, these hidden systems have been beyond democratic control and now we see this alliance extending its tentacles to cover not just suspected terrorists but criminals as well. Its activities are likely to be as unaccountable as ever, by-passing standards of privacy and data protection."


- European Parliament: Echelon report (pdf)

- Appraisal of technologies of political control (for the EP STOA Committee, pdf)

- European Union and the FBI launch global surveillance system: A Statewatch report, 10 February 1997 (link)

- News report: FBI wants instant access to British identity data - Americans seek international database to carry iris, palm and finger prints (Guardian, link)

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