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France has a surveillence program just like the US’s PRISM

The United States has been dealing with criticism after its PRISM surveillance program was revealed, but it seems that it isn’t alone: France has a similar spy program aimed at voice and electronic communication.

French newspaper Le Monde reports that America is not alone when it comes to widespread internet and phone monitoring. Supposedly, the French intelligence agency Directorate General for External Security (DGSE) has been operating a PRISM-like program for some time. The program collects metadata from phone and internet communications, including from Google, Apple, Microsoft, Yahoo and Facebook. Metadata in this case would mean  information such as who the sender, or caller is; who the recipient is; how long the duration of the conversation was and the time of the communication. In other words, the program is not collecting data on the content of conversations. Nevertheless, the data can be transferred to the police to aid in criminal investigations, unlike with PRISM.

In Le Monde’s report, it isn’t stated whether the companies involved in the program have given their consent to giving away data, but it is reported that politicians are aware of the program and have been sworn to secrecy. The French data protection commission CNIL does not permit surveillance programs of this type, however, technically, it lies within the bounds of the law, so there is little to be done about it. The data collected is stored at DGSE headquarters outside of Paris.

Phone tapping is more subtle today than in years past

The discovery of the French program came timely, as the European parliament, of which France is a leading member, voted to begin an in-depth investigation into the American PRISM program. Of course, the British intelligence agency GCHQ are also reportedly monitoring web traffic, so perhaps none of this should be terribly shocking to us any more.

Via The Verge

David F.
A grad student in experimental physics, David is fascinated by science, space and technology. When not buried in lecture books, he enjoys movies, gaming and mountainbiking

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