French Echelon report says Europe should lock out US snoops

And it wants better encryption, all made in Europe...


The report of the French National Assembly's enquiry into the Echelon surveillance system, published yesterday, points up dangers to privacy and mission creep whereby a 'security' system is being used to spy on European businesses and technological developments. And somewhat ominously, it recommends that the European Union should push for the development of secure computer systems and liberalise policy on encryption.

The claim that Echelon is used for industrial espionage has some plausibility, particularly as the US has at least partially conceded that this is the case. Enquiry chairman Arthur Paecht however says that he received no co-operation from the US and UK authorities. Which puts the UK in a ticklish position, even before we get onto the implications of Paecht's recommendations.

From the US point of view, apart from using Echelon to combat terrorism, crime and that useful catch-all 'subversives,' it's logical for it to be applied to keep countries and businesses honest. So where businesses may be competing unfairly by offering bribes, Echelon should be (and has been) used to correct the balance. Similarly, in cases where technologies can be used for both civilian and military purposes, Echelon should keep an eye on that too, right?

These are however pretty broad target areas that could quite easily provide justification for snooping on practically anything and anybody, it's a slippery slope, and - crucially, from a French and European perspective - its direction is in the hands of the US and the UK (we'll suspend disbelief and pretend the US actually asks us about this stuff, rather than just parking the gear here).

Echelon and the UK's role in the system have raised considerable ire in the rest of Europe, and in Brussels itself. The likelihood of Paecht's recommendations or something similar being acted upon is therefore fairly high. But if Brussels takes steps to protect privacy, crank up the levels of encryption available, and lock Echelon out, it would put the UK and its snoop-happy home secretary in a tricky position, wouldn't it? All that work on the RIP bill could go up in smoke after all.

Related stories:
Echelon spy system wildly exaggerated - official
NSA memos suggest ECHELON exists
What the hell is - the Echelon scandal?


Other stories you might like

  • Robotics and 5G to spur growth of SoC industry – report
    Big OEMs hogging production and COVID causing supply issues

    The system-on-chip (SoC) side of the semiconductor industry is poised for growth between now and 2026, when it's predicted to be worth $6.85 billion, according to an analyst's report. 

    Chances are good that there's an SoC-powered device within arm's reach of you: the tiny integrated circuits contain everything needed for a basic computer, leading to their proliferation in mobile, IoT and smart devices. 

    The report predicting the growth comes from advisory biz Technavio, which looked at a long list of companies in the SoC market. Vendors it analyzed include Apple, Broadcom, Intel, Nvidia, TSMC, Toshiba, and more. The company predicts that much of the growth between now and 2026 will stem primarily from robotics and 5G. 

    Continue reading
  • Deepfake attacks can easily trick live facial recognition systems online
    Plus: Next PyTorch release will support Apple GPUs so devs can train neural networks on their own laptops

    In brief Miscreants can easily steal someone else's identity by tricking live facial recognition software using deepfakes, according to a new report.

    Sensity AI, a startup focused on tackling identity fraud, carried out a series of pretend attacks. Engineers scanned the image of someone from an ID card, and mapped their likeness onto another person's face. Sensity then tested whether they could breach live facial recognition systems by tricking them into believing the pretend attacker is a real user.

    So-called "liveness tests" try to authenticate identities in real-time, relying on images or video streams from cameras like face recognition used to unlock mobile phones, for example. Nine out of ten vendors failed Sensity's live deepfake attacks.

    Continue reading
  • Lonestar plans to put datacenters in the Moon's lava tubes
    How? Founder tells The Register 'Robots… lots of robots'

    Imagine a future where racks of computer servers hum quietly in darkness below the surface of the Moon.

    Here is where some of the most important data is stored, to be left untouched for as long as can be. The idea sounds like something from science-fiction, but one startup that recently emerged from stealth is trying to turn it into a reality. Lonestar Data Holdings has a unique mission unlike any other cloud provider: to build datacenters on the Moon backing up the world's data.

    "It's inconceivable to me that we are keeping our most precious assets, our knowledge and our data, on Earth, where we're setting off bombs and burning things," Christopher Stott, founder and CEO of Lonestar, told The Register. "We need to put our assets in place off our planet, where we can keep it safe."

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022