Echelon is based on 1970s Eastern European ‘pipe-style’ typefaces. This style of Communist ‘consumer’ typography came from what at the time seemed like another universe. Even though the letterforms had the same historical origins as their Western equivalents, they also had their own bizarre fashionable/unfashionable aesthetic.
The parallels between the surveillance practices of the Soviet Union and those of today’s western governments informed the naming of this typeface. Echelon is the codename for a massive international government surveillance system that collects and processes data from communications satellites. It can eavesdrop on telephones and computers, it can track bank accounts. It can record and store information on millions of individuals. Officially, Echelon does not exist.