European parliament launches investigation into Echelon

The European Parliament voted Thursday to investigate the international surveillance network code-named Echelon that is headed up by the US and Britain .

The investigation will concentrate on whether the US and other involved countries have used this network to gain business advantage for companies.

This follows the announcement that France's counter-intelligence agency will carry out its own investigation into possible industrial espionage via Echelon at the behest of Public prosecutor Jean-Pierre Thierry.

Investigative journalist Duncan Campbell recently presented a report to the EU revealing significant evidence that Echelon is indeed being used to secure business contracts for American firms.

Further evidence was also recently published in the British press. Britain's strong and long-lasting intelligence relationship with the US puts considerable strain on its position within Europe. (See World Under Watch, ZDNet UK's Echelon News Special.)