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Big Brother Bill Is Watching You

The world of computer espionage is hotting-up with French accusations that US secret agents worked with computer giant, Microsoft, to spy on worldwide communications. John Howard reports.

French claims in the European Parliament that the US National Security Agency (NSA) is spying on companies through its Echelon monitoring programme have taken a new turn today, with accusations that US secret agents helped develop Microsoft software.

A report written by the intelligence arm of the French Defence Ministry says that agents from the NSA helped install secret programmes on Microsoft software which helps Washington spy on communications.

The report says persistent rumours about the existence of spy programs on Microsoft's software were fueled by a 'strong suspicion' of a lack of security. The report also notes that NSA personnel worked in the Bill Gates development teams.

Microsoft software is said to be used in 90 per cent of the world's computers.

The report also claims: ' ....it would seem that the creation of Microsoft was largely supported, not least financially, by the NSA, and that IBM was made to accept the (Microsoft) MS-DOS operating system by the same administration.'

The report does not provide any evidence for that but it does claim the Pentagon was Microsoft's biggest client in the world.

For over two years there have been persistent allegations that the Echelon system has been used by the US to intercept global electronic communications which gave US companies advantages when submitting international tenders for new business.

A satellite base at Waihopai near Blenheim in the South Island is said to be part of the Echelon system feeding information to the NSA in the US. Australia and Great Britain are also said to be involved in Echelon through their satellite-base networks.

Concerns and anger about Echelon have already been raised in the European Parliament and they are due to be discussed in detail shortly. This latest French Defence Ministry report is likely to fuel European anger with the US.

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