Echelon is an electronic surveillance network developed for use in the Cold War, but apparently now turned to more mundane things, like protecting wealthy Hollywood liberals. From Reason Magazine:
There was a lot of buzz a decade or so ago about Echelon, an international electronic surveillance network said to link the United States, Canada, Britain, Australia and New Zealand. A flurry of stories covered the connections among the five countries, speculation about the network's capabilities, and rumors about Echelon's targets in a post-Cold War world. The European Parliament even produced a report (PDF) discussing the the potential risks the spy system posed to the European Union. . . . Now, Echelon is re-entering the headlines, and we are likely to learn more about the network's capabilities than conspiracy fans ever dreamed possible, all because of the copyright case against the defunct online storage company, Megaupload.
In the increasingly bizarre case unfolding in Hobbit-land, we learned months ago that the Government Communications Security Bureau, New Zealand's equivalent of the National Security Agency, illegally spied on eccentric former Megaupload chief, Kim Dotcom. The New Zealand government did so at the behest of its American friends, and apparently shared real-time intelligence with U.S. officials. Befuddled judges in New Zealand, seeking to discover just how far down the rabbit hole government officials went in their efforts for an intellectual property case, now want to know the whole story.
. . . At the time of the European Parliament report on Echelon, EU officials were concerned that the system was being used by its English-speaking sponsors for commercial purposes after the fall of the Communist bloc. We're in a brave new world, of course, and providers of all sorts of goods and services have to be flexible in seeking new markets. But the pursuit of copyright claims by Echelon would seem to reduce the high-tech snooping alliance to the level of a private investigator specializing in matrimonial bed-hopping and free-pouring by bartenders.I'm sure that any witnesses will be lying through their teeth about Echelon's capabilities, as well as the illegal activities in which they have been involved.