This past weekend, Australia’s Spy Chief acknowledged that five countries jointly monitor international calls and faxs, as well as nearly all email. The project –Echelon– involves the US (NSA), Australia (DSD), UK, Canada (CSE) and New Zealand.

Echelon automatically runs these communications through a computer dictionary so that messages of interest can be reviewed by analysts. As an example, it might grab messages that include words such as bomb, sigint, Intelsat, terrorist, terrorism, weapons proliferation, North Korea, economic intelligence, marijuana, cocaine, opium, Kojarena, Pakistan, nuclear weapons, Shoal Bay, Waihopai, Sugar Grove, murder.

As you might guess this is meant both to help inform and as noise to raise the difficulty of Intellience agencies use of the Echelon machine.

Information drawn from the followed news reports, which include additional information and links:

The Age (Daily Newspaper – Melbourne, Australia) 1

MSN Nine (News Site operated by Microsoft – Australia) 2 3 4 5 6

TechWeb (Technology News Site, USA) 7

Covert Action Quarterly (Journal that monitors Intelligence Agencies – Washington DC, USA) 8

Duncan Campbell (Investigative Jouranlist for the Guardian Newspaper in London, England): 9

MacOS Rumors (Computer Industry Newsite – USA) 10