United Stasi of America through the Echelon Prism
Signals collection has a long secretive and enigmatic history. The very definition of espionage implies spying, most closely associated with foreign sources. Since the Echelon network, the unified function of data retrieval became a given during the cold war. With the revelation of Prism, advances in sophisticated electronic devices and software algorithms provide a major leap. The article, Is PRISM the US version of Echelon?, sums up the evolution. “With this kind of setup and ambition to capture and evaluate private conversations (well, not so private now), makes Echelon that much more believable, and that PRISM is a reflection of the infamous project, but focused solely on the US.”
Bankwatch takes a sanguine attitude towards Why PRISM? ECHELON has been around since 1948 supported by US, UK, Canada, Australia. At the same time, the publication references the capacities of the original analogue technology.
“The ECHELON system is fairly simple in design: position intercept stations all over the world to capture all satellite, microwave, cellular and fiber-optic communications traffic, and then process this information through the massive computer capabilities of the NSA, including advanced voice recognition and optical character recognition (OCR) programs, and look for code words or phrases (known as the ECHELON Dictionary) that will prompt the computers to flag the message for recording and transcribing for future analysis. Intelligence analysts at each of the respective listening stations maintain separate keyword lists for them to analyze any conversation or document flagged by the system, which is then forwarded to the respective intelligence agency headquarters that requested the intercept.”
This machinery of electronic snooping has no instinctive restraint on the subject or content, when the technocratic engineers are left to design the next level of the “All Seeing Eye”. The notion that the Prism program is shocking certainly does not conform to the even increasing capacity of surveillance society that has already discarded the presumption of privacy.
The Wall Street Journal forecasts the total integration of data because Technology Emboldened the NSA, to capture all that is digital.
“At a 2009 conference on so-called cloud computing, an NSA official said the agency was developing a new system by linking its various databases and using Hadoop software to analyze them, according to comments reported by the trade publication InformationWeek.