French Report: 'Echelon' A Threat to Europe

"There does indeed exist a system of communication interception, put in place by the intelligence services of the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand," wrote Member of Parliament Arthur Paecht, who authored the report.

"It's not impossible that certain information collected [by Echelon] could be used for political or economic ends," Paecht said. Though there is no formal proof, "the ambiguity of the statements of certain responsible parties leave no doubt of that possibility," he wrote.

He said there is reason to believe espionage has "indirectly benefited" US businesses, adding, "If the French authorities advise companies and economic actors to protect themselves, they have of necessity their reasons."

Paecht recommended a reinforcement of information and communications security "at all levels, individual and collective, national and European."

A European Parliament committee charged with investigating the Echelon threat is scheduled to resume consultation on November 20 in Brussels.

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