European Parliament adopts 'Echelon' report

(IDG) -- The European Parliament Wednesday adopted a report that says the global electronic-surveillance network known as "Echelon" does exist.

Some 367 members of the European Parliament voted to support the report, which was several years in the making, while 159 voted against and 34 members abstained at the Parliament's plenary session in Strasbourg, France.

"This is a big step forward," said Ole Schmidt, a Swedish member of the European Parliament. "This is a damned important exercise in democracy. Now that a political body has revealed the existence of Echelon, we can put an end to the years of rumors upon the subject."

The report, published earlier this year, failed to produce hard evidence that the U.S. is using the global telecommunication-tapping network to conduct industrial espionage. "It is frequently maintained that Echelon has been used in this way, but no such case has been substantiated," the report says.

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