Onyx is a Swiss intelligence gathering system maintained by the Federal Intelligence Service - Nachrichtendienst des Bundes . The costs of the system are not public, but the amount of 100 million Swiss francs has been mentioned several times, in particular in 2000 by Werner Marti, SP deputy to the National Council . In March 2005, journalist Urs Paul Engeler estimated that the costs reached 400 million CHF. The Onyx system was launched in 2000, originally under the name SATOS-3 , and was completed in late 2005.
The goal of the system is to monitor both civil and military communications, such as telephone, fax or Internet traffic, carried by satellite. Onyx uses lists of keywords to filter the intercepted content for information of interest, and the choice of keywords by the intelligence community must be approved by an independent commission. The system is not supposed to monitor internal communications; however, the monitoring of a communication between a person in Switzerland and someone in another country is allowed. The Swiss Federal Council has indicated that Onyx is not linked to other foreign systems such as ECHELON; according to the Council, the confusion and rumours about this issue are due to the sale by Swisscom to Verestar of the ground satellite communication station of Leuk in 2000. The use of the system is controlled by an independent control authority composed of members of the federal administration.
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