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Global surveillance refers to the mass surveillance of entire populations across national borders. Its roots can be traced back to the middle of the 20th century, when the UKUSA Agreement was jointly enacted by the United Kingdom and the United States, which later expanded to Canada, Australia, and New Zealand to create the Five Eyes alliance. The alliance developed cooperation arrangements with several "third-party" nations. Eventually, this resulted in the establishment of a global surveillance network, code-named "ECHELON", in 1971.
Its existence, however, was not widely acknowledged by governments and the mainstream media until the global surveillance disclosures by Edward Snowden triggered a debate about the right to privacy in the Digital Age.
The origins of global surveillance can be traced back to the late 1940s, after the UKUSA Agreement was jointly enacted by the United Kingdom and the United States, which eventually culminated in the creation of the global surveillance network code-named "ECHELON" in 1971.
In the aftermath of the 1970s Watergate affair and a subsequent congressional inquiry led by Sen. Frank Church, it was revealed that the NSA, in collaboration with Britain's GCHQ, had routinely intercepted the international communications of prominent anti-Vietnam War leaders such as Jane Fonda and Dr. Benjamin Spock. Decades later, a multi-year investigation by the European Parliament highlighted the NSA's role in economic espionage in a report entitled 'Development of Surveillance Technology and Risk of Abuse of Economic Information', in 1999.
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