If pundits were wondering why the French authorities have kept relatively quiet about the Prism scandal revelations, perhaps it is because the secret service knew and was engaging in similar activities itself, French daily Le Monde has alleged.
Intelligence agency DGSE, the paper alleged, collects data from computers and telephones in France and other countries. This includes emails, text messages, phone records, and Facebook and Twitter access, which is all “stored for years”.
RT reports that DGSE keeps all metadata from private communications underneath its Paris headquarters, and this data is available to all seven other of France’s intelligence agencies. They are, Le Monde claims, able to access it at will to spot “suspicious communications” – but if Snowden’s revelations have revealed one thing, it is that states treat their entire populations as suspicious.
When the data is accessed, intelligence agencies are then able to focus their crosshairs on the individual, and engage on intrusive tactics like phone tapping, Le Monde said.
The French national security commission said that the tactics were legal and controlled by the prime minister’s office.
Although the intrusions could technically be legal, as with here in the UK, there are loopholes around independent scrutiny on each target – for example, when it was revealed foreign secretary William Hague can and does rubber stamp the snooping en masse.