Antoni's Wire Service

Date: Tue, 19 Oct 1999 17:51:50 -0300 (ADT)
From: Antoni Wysocki <>
To: Antoni's Wire Service
Subject: jam ECHELON day - Oct 21/99


Thursday, October 21st, 1999 has been designated "Jam ECHELON Day" by the computer hacking activists of The Anarchy Organization's 'Hacktivism' listserve. In turn, these folks have requested solidarity action from any and all e-mailers. Specifically, "netizens" are asked to send out at least one electronic message containing about 50 of the ECHELON keywords.

For those who can't place the term "ECHELON", allow me to quote from an AntWire posting from February of this year:

The USA (with assistance from the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and Canada) maintains a surveillance network capable of intercepting almost all electronic transmissions worldwide. Moreover, it is not a question of this system (codenamed ECHELON) being capable in principle of such global oversight : this gargantuan spy operation is at work this moment, as it has been for many years.

ECHELON operatives have access to just about very telephone conversation, interactive cable television broadcast, fax and e-mail message anywhere (and everywhere) on earth. Without regard to national and international guarantees of privacy rights ECHELON agents screen the communications of organizations and individuals at will.

For regular operating purposes ECHELON casts a very broad net : for all intents and purposes the sum total of global telecommunications is trawled. Obviously with such a vast target there is a need to establish strict search parameters. This is done by programming computers to pick out e-mail or faxes which contain specified terms.

As it happens, further on in the same missive I floated the idea of vitiating ECHELON's work by sprinkling e-mail with the spy system's target terms. However, being lamentably unaware of just what the entries in the ECHELON dictionary might be, this tactic remained purely hypothetical.

Now, though, claims are being advanced that at least some of the keywords have been identified; a list is available at To be sure, it is difficult to fully credit the menu offered: for instance, "the"; "3"; and "^" (that's right - a circumflex accent mark) are clearly preposterous. These elements are so common that, used as triggers, they would create insurmountable problems for even the most sophisticated applications running on the fastest of supercomputers. I am also deeply suspicious of entries such as "Playboy" and "Bubba the Love Sponge". Additionally there are instances where one is irresistibly led to suspect transcription errors ("gorilla" being a notable example.)

Granted, implausible as some of these terms sound, it may be that they are in fact ciphers. Moreover, the rota includes a goodly number of elements that do seem credible enough: "plutonium"; "mailbomb"; "Echelon"; etc. (I note with some chagrin that my own guesses of "Jaggi Singh", "Iraq" and "nuclear device" are all absent, however.)

Having said as much, I am in considerable doubt about the reliability of this putative keyword index. Yet, skeptical as I am about the list from which I have selected the examples cited, I plan to take part in "Jam ECHELON Day" all the same. For one, at worst the <> round-up surely corresponds as closely with the real ECHELON dictionary as any given compendium emanating from outside the surveillance agencies themselves (i.e. their guesses are as good as anyone's, presumably.) It seems to me likely that at least some of the propounded terms are correct, and I am at a loss as to how we could do better in any case. Furthermore, the USA's National Security Agency and its satellites in Canada and elsewhere will no doubt be well aware of this initiative. Even if the <> menu is wrong in its entirety it may be that the eavesdroppers will be less than pleased to detect a high quantity of traffic on October 21 generated by a desire to interfere with ECHELON's activity (as measured by the exaggreated incidence of the triggers.) Finally, this is as good a way as any of alerting the public to ECHELON's existence.


ps. a quick survey of ECHELON can be found at:; this is an archived copy of the AntWire message excerpted above. A more thorough and authoritative treatment can be found at: This is a report prepared for the European Parliament, and represents the first official discussion of ECHELON and related control technologies.