France has comparable program to U.S, Prism with 'vast data surveillance'
Intelligence service intercepts computer and telephone data, according to Le Monde
In the light of the Prism crisis, when it was learned that the United States had been secretly surveying and spying on ostensible European allies, there was a great hue and cry over the overreaching of the American government into the lives of its own citizens and fellow western states. It now turns out that France, usually openly critical of the United States, has a very similar program that spies on its own citizens. Is the pot truly calling the kettle black?
According to the French daily Le Monde, France's foreign intelligence service intercepts computer and telephone data on a vast scale, like the controversial US Prism program. The data is stored on a supercomputer at the headquarters of the DGSE intelligence service, according to the paper.
Le Monde has denounced the operation as "outside the law, and beyond any proper supervision" - and other French intelligence agencies allegedly access the data secretly.
What is not yet known is whether the DGSE surveillance goes as far as the United States' Prism. So far, French officials have not commented on the allegations.
DGSE allegedly analyses the "metadata," and not the contents of emails and other communications. The data gathered is who is speaking to whom, when and where.
Connections inside France and between France and other countries are all monitored, Le Monde reports.
The data is being stored on three basement floors of the DGSE building in Paris, according to the newspaper. The secret service is the French equivalent of Britain's MI6.
Experts say the program is to uncover terrorist cells. But the scale of it means that "anyone can be spied on, any time," Le Monde says.
There is a continuing international furor over revelations that the U.S. has been systematically seizing vast amounts of phone and web data. The French government has been at the forefront of criticizing U.S. spying, which allegedly included eavesdropping on official EU communications.
The scale of surveillance by America's National Security Agency, or NSA emerged from classified intelligence documents leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden.
The UK spy agency GCHQ is reported to run a similarly vast data collection operation, co-operating closely with the NSA.
© 2013, Distributed by NEWS CONSORTIUM.
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