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Challenging the Emergence of 21st Century Global Surveillance Networks

We begin the 21st century with the emergence of quite extraordinary capabilities to monitor all transactions undertaken on our telecommunications highways, be they telephone, mobile, fax or email conversations. Two major global surveillance networks are of importance, namely (i) the NSA run Echelon system which is already in place and (ii) the EU-FBI surveillance system which is currently planned but not yet operational.

Using material gathered by the other speakers on this panel as well as the work of the Omega Foundation for the European Parliament's Scientific and Technological Options assessment panel, this presentation elaborates how these systems were uncovered by individual researchers and NGO's who despite overtones of "Enemy of the State" have successfully managed to challenge the lack of democratic accountability of these extremely powerful surveillance networks.

At the time, this process is still ongoing and the other speakers on this panel, notably Duncan Campbell and Simon Davies,l explain more of the current state of play and their respective roles in taking these challenges further in both political and media terms.

What we are about to witness is the most significant global debate on the acceptable limits of mass electronic surveillance for the last twenty years. This debate will determine the balance between information freedom and information control - perhaps one of the last occasions when dissenters have a real opportunity to resist the 21st century being dominated by the electronic manufacture of consent.

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