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Jam Echelon Day a 'rousing' success, says organiser

Echelon did not grind to a halt, but the protest day helped to raise public awareness about the US-led surveillance system
Written by Wendy McAuliffe, Contributor

An international day of protest designed to jam the US-led communications spy system Echelon was a "rousing" success according to its organisers, who claim that the cyber-demonstration helped to raise public awareness about the surveillance system.

Jam Echelon Day took place on 21 October, and encouraged members of the Internet community to send out as many email messages as possible, containing so-called trigger words that the Echelon system is believed to pick up on. The event was organised to raise public awareness about the Echelon intelligence system -- its organisers claim that there was never an intention to overload the system.

"If every single email user in the European Union sent the entire trigger word list on 21 October, Echelon wouldn't feel the impact," said Michael Tettering, joint organiser of the event. "The truth is, they are geared way beyond our ability to actually create an impact."

The existence of Echelon was confirmed by the European Parliament in May. A lengthy investigation found sufficient evidence to suggest that the spy system -- a US-led venture that has support from the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand -- is used for global industrial espionage. The activists who coordinated the protest day from www.cipherwar.com, claim that Echelon does not monitor internally in the US. "An email campaign would only be effective to, or within, the European Union," said Tettering.

It is impossible to judge the impact that the campaign had on Echelon, but Tettering and his co-organiser Scully report that in the last six months almost 50 mirrors of the site have been posted around the world, in 11 different languages.

"For us, success is measured by our assessment of our ability to bring the existence of Echelon before the general Internet user. On those merits alone, it was a rousing success," said Tettering.

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