08 November 2007

Interception Capabilities 2000

1. Communications intelligence (Comint) involving the covert interception of foreign communications has been practised by almost every advanced nation since international telecommunications became available. Comint is a large-scale industrial activity providing consumers with intelligence on diplomatic, economic and scientific developments. The capabilities of and constraints on Comint activity may usefully be considered in the framework of the "intelligence cycle" (section 1).

2. Globally, about 15-20 billion Euro is expended annually on Comint and related activities. The largest component of this expenditure is incurred by the major English-speaking nations of the UKUSA alliance.(1) This report describes how Comint organisations have for more than 80 years made arrangements to obtain access to much of the world's international communications. These include the unauthorised interception of commercial satellites, of long distance communications from space, of undersea cables using submarines, and of the Internet. In excess of 120 satellite systems are currently in simultaneous operation collecting intelligence (section 2).


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