In 1988, Duncan revealed in the New Statesman the existence of ECHELON, an extension of the UKUSA Agreement on global signals intelligence [Sigint]. The story, 'Somebody's listening,' detailed how the eavesdropping operations were not only being employed in the interests of 'national security,' but were regularly abused for corporate espionage in the service of US business interests.


The piece passed largely unnoticed outside of journalism circles. Then in 1996, New Zealand reporter, Nicky Hager, published 'Secret Power,' a thorough investigation of New Zealand's role in signals intelligence. In 1998 and 1999 respectively, the European Parliament/ Science and Technology Option Assessment [STOA] published reports by Leeds Metropolitan University Lecturer, Steve Wright ('Technology of Political Control') and Campbell's 'Interception Capabilities 2000".


The report was presented to the European Parliament in 2000, who commissioned further reports the following year - 'Interpection Capabilities 2001'.


On these pages, you will find original stories and reports; we have also included press reactions and a collection of videos that examine Echelon's function in the world.

Somebody's listening...

In the booming surveillance industry they spy on whom they wish, when they wish, protected by barriers of secrecy, fortified by billions of pounds worth of high, high technology. ECHELON is revealed!

12 August, 1988

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Interception Capabilities 2000

'IC 2000' is Duncan's original report to the European Parliament. Considered to be the most comprehensive and detailed analysis of ECHELON's function in global intelligence operations, it garnered significant praise.

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EPIC Report

Duncan's report for the Electronic Privacy Information Center [EPIC], based in Washington DC which investigated the US National Security Agency's use of surveillance and it's effect on human rights.

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ICIE2001:Echelon and its role in COMINT

Paper 1 of Duncan's 'Interception Capabilities: Impact & exploitation 2001' clarifies many of the misconceptions and misreporting of Echelon.

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ICIE2001: COMINT Impact on international trade

Using detailed, entirely American original sources, 'Paper 2' argues the significant economic and employment losses caused by Echelon's misuse.

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ICIE2001: COMINT, privacy and human rights:

'Paper 2' reveals the extent to which Echelon and Communications intellelligence is purposed towards the protection of US interests over European ones.

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EU Parliament Resolution

The full European Parliament resolution on Echelon.

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Ex-CIA director on Echelon

Former-CIA director James Whoolsey remarks on Echelon at the foreign press centre in Washington DC in 2000.

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A timeline of the changes in Echelon's history, going back to 1964.

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"Success stories"

A list of cases where Echelon was used for industrial espionage purposes.

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Duncan's reports on Echelon received significant attention and praise:

  • "This is by far the most authoritative document ever prepared on just what snooping is being done into your and my telecommunications". Sunday Programme, Channel 9 TV, Australia : 23 May 1999
  • "The report is undoubtedly the most comprehensive look at Echelon to date because of its attention to detail -- [and] the NSA's use of technology" Wired, 10 May 1999.
  • "Son investigation est tout à fait explosive; elle rappelle, détails a l'appui, que l'appareil de renseignement américain, et son appendice britannique, espionne et traque les communications internationales depuis le début du siècle". Le Point, 21 May 1999
  • "Eine Vorstellung wie aus der Phantasie eines Paranoikers: Ob wir über Handy oder Festnetz telefonieren, E-Mail schreiben, Dateien übers Internet verschicken - kein Wort sei sicher vor dem Zugriff internationaler Geheimdienste, die systematisch und in großem Maßstab nahezu alle Wege, auch den zivilen elektronischen Datenverkehr, belauschen und für ihre Zwecke auswerten". Der Spiegel, 21 May 1999.
  • "I believe that it's time that there is some congressional scrutiny of the Echelon project … Echelon has raised some questions about fundamental policy and constitutional rights." US Congressman and former CIA General Counsel Bob Barr, (quoted in Wired, 10 May 1999)

ECHELON press referencing Duncan:

Is U.S. a Global Snoop? No, Europe Is Told