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1999 09 21 * Ekstra Bladet * Politicians overlooked spy connection * Bo Elkjaer, Kenan Seeberg

The Danish state sold all its data registers and computer networks to a US company that collaborates with the Echelon-agency NSA

  

Only one month after Denmark sold Datacentralen to the US computer company CSC,
nine employees in the company participated in a meeting with fifteen agents from the NSA - one of the US partners in the international surveillance ring known as Echelon.

 The state-owned Datacentralen was privatized and sold to CSC in 1996. When Datacentralen was privatized, CSC took over the responsibility for operating a major part of Denmark's data registers and networks, including the national Social Security ID records, police records and parts of the computer networks of Denmark's intelligence agencies (the PET and FE). In addition, a large segment of the Danish armed forces' computer networks and an entire database of all small firearms in the armed forces were transferred to foreign hands.

In spite of the fact that the CSC bought its way into the very core of Denmark's electronic community, the cooperation between CSC and the US intelligence agency NSA came nonetheless as a complete surprise for the politicians responsible for the transaction.

Lone Dybkjær is vice chairperson on the board of directors for CSC Denmark. She was unaware of the cooperation between CSC and the NSA until she learned about it in June - when we told her - more than three years after the last signature had closed the billion-DKK deal.

 

NO CAUSE FOR PARANOIA

"Even though I knew very well that they were involved in projects with the US military system, I have no doubt that the dividing wall between Denmark's data registers and foreign interests is thoroughly watertight. We must assume that the company obeys the law, otherwise they are finished in this sector."

You cannot imagine any major problems in CSC's interaction with the NSA, which runs Echelon?
"I do not know if they compile common security systems, but we shouldn't let our paranoia get the best of us either and think that everyone is spying on everyone else. Otherwise I have no comments to CSC's collaboration."

Have you inquired about this issue on CSC's board where you are vice chairperson?
"Whatever I inquire about in board contexts is confidential, so I am not at liberty to say."

Can you then tell us if the security is adequate in your opinion?
"That's something you should ask the Danish government about."

 

SPIES AT CSC

The collaboration between Computer Science Corporation and the NSA has existed for quite some time. On its homepage, the company states that it has been delivering computer hardware and software to the NSA for the past twenty years. The cooperation is so extensive that the computer company CSC has an exchange agreement with the intelligence agency NSA. The agreement means that the computer company and the intelligence agency can exchange employees for brief or extended periods of time.

At a meeting between CSC and the NSA in the spring of 1996 - less than a month after Denmark had sold out to CSC - security standards for computer networks were discussed. According to the minutes of the meeting - which are in the possession of Ekstra Bladet - notes were compared and threats were analyzed.

At the Ministry of Research, which at the time was in charge of the sale of vital data registers, Secretariat Manager Kim Norman Christensen is quite surprised by their close cooperation.

Did you know that CSC cooperates with the US intelligence agency?

"No, I must admit that I have never been informed of it until you told me just now."

Do you believe this situation promotes adequate security?

"Since security issues are the responsibility of the Data Surveillance Authority, we must assume that it does."

Do you personally believe that security can be tight when cooperation is this close?

"Now you are asking me something that I am unable to answer, since it is mainly a political question. I would prefer not to say anything about it."

 

NO CONTROL

Neither was the director for the Data Surveillance Authority, Henrik Waaben, aware that CSC closely cooperates with Echelon-wirepullers, the NSA, when contacted by Ekstra Bladet.

"But regardless of whether a collaboration of this nature exists, we do not have any opinion about it. We must assume that the company is obeying the law. Furthermore, we regularly meet with them to discuss major and minor issues. New laws, operational disturbances and the like."

Do you believe that the security is good enough when a company cooperates so closely with the intelligence agency of a foreign country?

"Based on what you are telling me, I don't believe there is any reason to sound an alarm."

How many inspection visits have you paid to CSC?

"I think it is on a quarterly basis, but they are not really actual inspection visits. More like meetings. We haven't any practical opportunity to.. Well I must blankly admit that if this kind of cooperation did exist and information was exchanged, it's not something that we would discover during our visits."

Well then, who is responsible for guaranteeing the Danish people that inspection is carried out?

"If there is an actual case with information that appears where it shouldn't, then we can naturally raise the issue and discuss it with them. And I can't exclude the possibility that we will discuss the matter with them the next time we pay them a visit."

Yesterday we were unable to get a statement from Minister of Justice Frank Jensen, who is politically responsible for the Data Surveillance Authority.

We wanted to talk with Frank Jensen about another matter, too. As Minister of Research in 1996, he was politically responsible for the sale of Datacentralen to CSC.