“France runs a vast electronic surveillance operation, intercepting and stocking data from citizens’ phone and internet activity, using similar methods to the US National Security Agency’s Prism programme exposed by Edward Snowden, Le Monde has reported. An investigation by the French daily found that the DGSE, France’s external intelligence agency, had spied on the French public’s phone calls, emails and internet activity. The agency intercepted signals from computers and phones in France as well as between France and other countries, looking not so much at content but to create a map of “who is talking to whom”, the paper said. Le Monde said data from emails, text messages, phone records, accessing of Facebook and Twitter, and internet activity going through sites such as Google, Microsoft or Yahoo! was stocked for years on vast servers on three different floors in the basement of the DGSE headquarters. The paper described the vast spying programme as secret, “outside any serious control” and illegal. The metadata from phone and internet use was stocked in a “gigantic database” which could be consulted by six French intelligence and security agencies as well as the police. The paper said Bernard Barbier, technical director of the DGSE, had previously described the system as “probably the biggest information centre in Europe after the English“.”
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