French Agency Spies on Phone Calls, Email, Web Use, Paper Says By REUTERS
PARIS - France's external intelligence agency spies on the French public's phone calls, emails and social media activity in France and abroad, the daily Le Monde said on Thursday.
It said the DGSE intercepted signals from computers and telephones in France, and between France and other countries, although not the content of phone calls, to create a map of "who is talking to whom". It said the activity was illegal.
"All of our communications are spied on," wrote Le Monde, which based its report on unnamed intelligence sources as well as remarks made publicly by intelligence officials.
"Emails, text messages, telephone records, access to Facebook and Twitter are then stored for years," it said.
The activities described are similar to those carried out by the U.S.
National Security Agency, as described in documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.
The documents revealed that the NSA has access to vast amounts of Internet data such as emails, chat rooms and video from large companies such as Facebook and Google, under a programme known as Prism.
They also showed that the U.S. government had gathered so-called metadata - such as the time, duration and numbers called - on all telephone calls carried by service providers such as Verizon.
France's DGSE was not immediately available for comment.
Le Monde said the French national security commission whose job it is to authorise targeted spying, and the parliamentary intelligence committee, had challenged the paper's report and said it worked in accordance with the law.
It said the only body that collected communications information was a government agency controlled by the prime minister's office that monitors for security breaches.
Le Monde's report comes amid a storm over media allegations that Washington regularly spies on European citizens and embassies. The allegations, made in the German magazine Der Spiegel, sparked concern from data protection watchdogs and irked European governments just as major transatlantic trade talks are about to start.
Le Monde said France's DGSE was more interested in finding out who was speaking to whom than in combing through the content of private communications. It said the DGSE stored a mass of such metadata in the basement of its Paris headquarters.
France's seven other intelligence services, including domestic secret services and customs and money-laundering watchdogs, have access to the data and can tap into it freely as a means to spot people whose communications seem suspicious, whom they can then track with more intrusive techniques such as phone-tapping, Le Monde wrote.
The Guardian newspaper reported last month that Britain had a similar spying programme on international phone and Internet traffic and was sharing vast quantities of personal information with the American NSA.
(Reporting by Natalie Huet; Editing by Catherine Bremer and Kevin Liffey)
(F)AIR USE NOTICE: All original content and/or articles and graphics in this message are copyrighted, unless specifically noted otherwise. All rights to these copyrighted items are reserved. Articles and graphics have been placed within for educational and discussion purposes only, in compliance with "Fair Use" criteria established in Section 107 of the Copyright Act of 1976.
The principle of "Fair Use" was established as law by Section 107 of The Copyright Act of 1976. "Fair Use" legally eliminates the need to obtain permission or pay royalties for the use of previously copyrighted materials if the purposes of display include "criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research." Section 107 establishes four criteria for determining whether the use of a work in any particular case qualifies as a "fair use". A work used does not necessarily have to satisfy all four criteria to qualify as an instance of "fair use". Rather, "fair use" is determined by the overall extent to which the cited work does or does not substantially satisfy the criteria in their totality. If you wish to use copyrighted material for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use,' you must obtain permission from the copyright owner. For more information go to:
THIS DOCUMENT MAY CONTAIN COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL. COPYING AND DISSEMINATION IS PROHIBITED WITHOUT PERMISSION OF THE COPYRIGHT OWNERS.