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[FYI] Commission statement on Echelon


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Speech by M. Erkki LIIKANEN European Commissioner responsible for 
Entreprise and Information Society Commission statement on Echelon 
European Parliament Brussels, 30 March 2000  

DN: SPEECH/00/107     Date: 2000-03-30  

     TXT: EN
     PDF: EN
     Word Processed: EN


Speech by M. Erkki LIIKANEN 

European Commissioner responsible for Entreprise and Information 

Commission statement on Echelon 

European Parliament 

Brussels, 30 March 2000

Commission statement in the European Parliament on 30 March 2000 
under agenda point "Déclarations du Conseil et de la Commission 
système 'Echelon', sur l'existence du système d'intelligence 
artificielle permettant aux Etats-Unis d'Amérique d'intercepter et de 
surveiller toutes les communications téléphoniques et électroniques 
de l'Union européenne"  

The Commission has taken note of the recent debate with concern. 

We received a letter by Madame Fontaine to Mr. Prodi last night, 
asking the Commission to concentrate its statement on certain 
questions. I try to cover most of them.  

The respect of Human Rights and the Rule of Law constitute the 
foundations of the European Union. The European Convention on Human 
Rights recognises the right to privacy as one of those rights. All 
member states of the European Union are signatories of the 

The specific competencies attributed to the Community are defined in 
the Treaty. The Commission can only act within the limits of the 
powers conferred on it by the Treaty.  

The Community has a clear competence in the field of data protection 
and in research and technological development. The Union has 
competencies under the so-called third pillar framework with regard 
to law enforcement and fight against crime. National security 
questions belong to the exclusive competence of the Member States.  

* * * 

The Lisbon Summit last week set out ambitious targets to turn Europe 
into the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the 
world. Exploiting the full potential of information technology and 
Internet are key elements in achieving this goal.  

Electronic communications play an increasingly important role in 
everyday life of European citizens. Well functioning electronic 
communications infrastructure has become crucial for our economies.  

A pre-condition for achieving the Lisbon targets is that citizens and 
enterprises can trust in electronic communications.  

A key tool to secure the confidentiality of electronic communications 
is encryption, or cryptography. Encryption means the transformation 
of data into a form unreadable by anyone without a decryption key. 
When the European Parliament considered the issue of interception of 
telecommunications in 1998, its resolution underlined the importance 
of encryption.  

The European research efforts and relatively open access to markets 
have created conditions that have enabled European enterprises to 
develop a world-class expertise and high-quality encryption products. 

It is worth noting that the United States government has recently 
taken steps to relax its export controls regime for encryption 

The current rules for intra-community trade are laid down in the so-
called dual-use regulation. For external trade, the Wassenaar 
arrangement imposes export controls on strong encryption products. 
The aim of export controls is to try to avoid undesired proliferation 
of these products to certain countries and to criminal organisations. 
The Commission recognises the need to balance availability of 
encryption products with concerns of public security and fight 
against crime.  

The Lisbon European Council called on the Council and the Parliament 
to adopt - as rapidly as possible - the dual-use export control 
regime. The Commission hopes that the revision of dual-use regulation 
can be completed during the Portuguese presidency.  

Moreover, the budget for research for security and confidence 
enhancing technologies has been increased under the 5th Framework 

The Commission considers that enhancing the security of 
communications over Internet by using encryption is a priority. The 
introduction of such products is not  

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