back to article French snooping as deep as PRISM: Le Monde

Edward Snowden's revelations about American communications snoopery have inspired newspapers around the world to investigate domestic spying, the latest of which is Le Monde in France. The newspaper's exposé (French language) finds that French citizens' communications are just as thoroughly trawled as those in America. “The …


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  1. Chris Miller

    Quelle surprise !

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      The surprise is that the French only spy on their own, or do they?

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not a shocking revelation at all. The snooping currently being done is not that far away from what the Chinese government does. When the Great Firewall is replicated elsewhere is when the governments no longer fear the people they represent.

    1. Thorne

      "When the Great Firewall is replicated elsewhere is when the governments no longer fear the people they represent."

      Like in Australia?

  3. JeffyPoooh

    It's okay, they're French...

    I'm using English, so I'm safe from their prying little French eyes.

    1. Dave Stevens
      Big Brother

      Re: It's okay, they're French...

      Actually, no. Would be funny if there was a French counter part to SIP (PIS?) but there isn't and all metadata is in English.

    2. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: It's okay, they're French...

      You should have used a joke tag instead :)

      The interesting thing about metadata trawling is that language is totally irrelevant. You may be speaking Navaho and you will still show up on the number cruncher as a "suspect of interest" if you talk to the "wrong" people. Once you have shown up on that trawl they will find someone who speaks Navaho (or Glaswegian), trust me.

      Welcome to the brave new world. Actually, not brave new world, welcome to "This Perfect Day". We should probably thank Google for doing so much to advance the humanity towards that - after all they figured out how to trawl through the metadata morass in the first place. Viva la conditional probability. Alors enfants de la MapReduce.... Puts all those Schmidt rants about no privacy and nothing to hide in the right perspective...

      1. frobnicate

        Re: It's okay, they're French...

        It's not Google, it's "Big Five": LLNL, LALN, LNNL, ORNL, ANL. Why do you think they need *exaflop/exabyte* systems?

    3. Dr_N Silver badge

      Re: It's okay, they're French...

      It's only the English who actually can't speak/understand foreign languages.

      The French just pretend not to.

  4. Rampant Spaniel

    Not exactly a shock. You spy on my back and I'll spy on yours and there is less of a constitutional issue. Amusing how the countries that were all indignant about the US spying on them all have their own little operations. I don't condone it, but even the folks without tinfoil hats have pretty much concluded that everything was monitored by someone.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    And in Egypt...

    Meanwhile over in Egypt, the new military dictatorship is rounding up supporters of the former government using all this lovely meta-data linking them together.

    Because metadata has no bad uses at all... nope, none at all.

    [for GCHQ: Don't shoot the messenger. These are truths no matter that I say them, and your ability to shut me up doesn't make them any less true].

    1. Eddy Ito
      Thumb Up

      Re: And in Egypt...

      Anonymously? I get it but still, how quaint.

      1. Steve Knox
        Big Brother

        Re: And in Egypt...


        No, not really. The relevant metadata has been stored.

    2. virhunter

      Re: And in Egypt...

      And the Egyptians would have learned it from the Germans, not the Americans or French. Which begs the question, what are the Germans doing and how far does it go?

    3. John Smith 19 Gold badge

      Re: And in Egypt...

      "Meanwhile over in Egypt, the new military dictatorship is rounding up supporters of the former government using all this lovely meta-data linking them together."

      The former government was othewise known as "The Moslem Brotherhood." an outfit Osama Bin Laden was quite fond of.

      My impression of the MB is that for a lot of Middle Eastern countries they are about as popular with their governments as the Paedophile Information Exchange would be running for office.

      Being elected is about as great a stress test of democracy as any I can think of.

    4. Tom 13

      Re: rounding up supporters of the former government

      The way I read it, they were rounding up the leaders of a government that for good and sufficient reason had lost the support of the people.*

      But rant on anyway.

      *Is this a dangerous path? Certainly. Does this increase the odds of Egypt devolving into some sort of military dicatorship? Again, certainly. But I'm doubtful the other path was any less dangerous.

    5. Daniel B.

      Re: And in Egypt...

      The "former government" had lost a lot of support from the public, nonetheless because they were silently taking over the entire government. It sounds weird, but the consensus seems to be that the Egyptian Army actually saved the country. Of course, it remains to be seen if the Army will actually hand back the country to the next elected gov't...

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No surprise...

    I'd be surprised if most major countries (particularly China, Russia, maybe India) don't have something similar. It's just that most of the others vet their people well enough at the moment to avoid a Snowden.

    At the end of the day, the role of an intelligence service is to gather intelligence from as many sources as possible. This isn't an ethical point, just a fact. I can imagine how jealous the SS, NKVD, Stasi etc would be of such ability.

    AC to pretend that I'm not being snooped on (*looks for black helicopters while wearing tinfoil hat*).

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

  7. smudge
    Black Helicopters

    And have they stopped...

    ...bugging Business Class seats on Air France?

    1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

      Re: And have they stopped... @ smudge

      To what does your comment refer? It sound interesting.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: And have they stopped... @ smudge

        Allegedly there have been DGSE microphones hidden in the first class seats of at least an Air France Paris to Japan flight. Purely aimed at those terrrizts who travel first class!

        Oh and the Frenchelon internet systems that I've read about (and talked to the operators) don't just store Metadata but allow keyword CONTENT searches through an entire years phone/data traffic store. Same system that Sarkozy sold to Libya. Good Point: French parliament does get an oversight in the form of two closed sessions per year where they can analyze the interception statistics. Bad Point: The MinEfi mentioned that the difference between these French (and •any• 'Snowden') intel systems and a digital weapon is all down to how it is used. It's a pity that France sold 'loaded' Amesys-Bull DPI systems in the past which seem to have been used in cyber attacks and worse. So by their own standards they have used these systems as weapons or proxy weapons.

  8. Anomalous Cowshed

    allau allau

    Kvik, it's heem again. He iz online vatching ze noti pikchers of ze fallen Madonna viz ze bik boobiez. Ve must rekord ze konversazion. Ve must rekord EVERY konversazion.

  9. Dan 55 Silver badge

    À propos...

    Why did the British government bother trying to push the Snooper's charter through parliament if they've effectively already doing it anyway?

    1. DragonLord

      Re: À propos...

      Because they are honest enough to know that they can't keep something like secret forever, so if there's a legal basis for it they no longer have to hide it.

      It's a very clever bit of arse covering if I say so myself.

  10. Chris G Silver badge

    You need to say ziss only once

    And we may use it in evidence against you at any time!

  11. ukgnome

    Dear Spys

    If you were any good at your job then we wouldn't know you were spying. It seems that you all suck!

    *just sayin*

  12. Arctic fox

    The Berlin Wall came down amidst general rejoicing only for us now to discover...........

    ................many years after that Western governments routinely subject their citizens to the kind of high tech snooping that the KGB in their day would have given the eye-teeth for.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The Berlin Wall came down amidst general rejoicing only for us now to discover...........

      The funny thing is, the very laws the French are using to gather this data, were struck down by Germany (one half of which is ex-Eastern Block, the other half occupied by three Western powers until the 90s), as well as the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Romania, and even the Hungarians have asked for a legal review before implementing ED 2006/24/EC. See a pattern here?

      Another link. Read it and weep:

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The Berlin Wall came down amidst general rejoicing only for us now to discover...........

        Another interesting article:

        « The European Commission is carrying out an impact assessment of the Directive and has announced its intention to propose a revision. Leaked documents confirm that the Commission is seeking to create evidence supporting the need for a DRD scheme in the EU and unnamed parties are seeking to broaden the uses of DRD to include prosecution of copyright infringement. »

        Like the last bit?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: The Berlin Wall came down amidst general rejoicing only for us now to discover...........

          I've heard, so this is hearsay, that EU plod aren't actually using hardly *any* of the data retained under the DRD. The matrix of use per nation has looked very empty! Memos have gone out to demand that someone should at least 'look' like they're using this data in crime response in the various national forces across the EU. (As the whole idea behind DRD data is intended to feed & share/trade raw product with NSA its obvious that the plods are a bit out of the loop) I just hope that "memos" satisfy the UK led hardliners on DRD, so that they never require the falseflag approach for justification.

          If UK plod ever requested any retained hearsay data under DRD, then under RIPA its status would also be 'hearsay' and not used in court.

  13. Cliff


    There has to be a French Spy gag in there somewhere?

  14. This post has been deleted by its author

  15. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    Ever wondered what the EU Data Retention Directive *does* ?

    Written in Britain by those freedom loving people of the "Home Office" following the Madrid train bombings.

    WTF did you think was going to happen?

  16. jubtastic1

    I can understand the why

    If its your job to protect the elected government from any and all threats then it follows that you'd want to know everything about everyone, but surely they also understand that in building this apparatus they provide an unscrupulous government with the means to coerce and control the electorate, which would be an orders of magnitude larger failure of their mission than the occasional terrorist attack.

    The intelligence services of the free world have set themselves up to fail, and the billions of the people their agencies were created to protect will pay the price in blood, sweat and tears. There needs to be an urgent public discussion about the implications of mass surveillance, and what if any constitutional safeguards exist to keep this crushing weight, balanced precariously above our heads from crashing down on us.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      re: "There needs to be an urgent public discussion about "

      There needs to be an urgent public discussion about a great many things, but at the moment the public in question is busy twittering about the latest lolcat and couldn't care less.

      1. Tom 13

        Re: public in question is busy twittering

        Bread and circuses my man, bread and circuses.

        Of course, we know we're more civilized than the Romans were be cause we don't kill anyone at the circuses. </sarc>

  17. i like crisps
    Big Brother

    Didn't they learn anything form Agincourt?

    I was quite upset about the idea of PRISM, the NSA and GCHQ hanging out of our arses for all time,

    but this revelation has really 'miffed' me. Who do these 'Frenches' think they are? If anyone is going

    to mass surveil the entire planet and hold it's population captive then by George it's going to be good

    old Blighty and her pimp (USA), and not a bunch frogs legs!!!

    So come on everybody lets get behind our un-elected, sinister, state sponsored murdering, Security

    Services and stick it to the French...EN-GER-LAND, EN-GER-LAND, rule Britania blah blah blah blah blah,

    five chinese blah blah blah blah blah bang bang bang bang bang...God bless her Majesty.

  18. heyrick Silver badge

    Not the same as PRISM

    As the likes of The Daily Mail like to gloss over, the French are mostly snooping on the French. You'd be a fool not to think your own government is spying on you.

    PRISM, on the other hand, is the Americans snooping and profiling everybody who is not an American. There is a world of difference there.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Not the same as PRISM

      "PRISM, on the other hand, is the Americans snooping and profiling everybody who is not an American."

      I think you had some unneeded words there....


  19. Captain Save-a-ho
    Big Brother

    Remember, remember the Fifth of November...

    People shouldn't be afraid of their gov'ts. Gov'ts should be afraid of their people.

    1. Sir Runcible Spoon

      Re: Remember, remember the Fifth of November...

      They are, why else do you think they're doing all this?

  20. Olivreghw

    electromagnetic signals


    “The Directorate General for External Security (DGSE, the services special) systematically collect electromagnetic signals from computers or phones in France, as well as flows between French and abroad,” the outlet writes. “All e-mails, text messages, telephone records, access to Facebook , Twitter , are then stored for years.

    It says that it "systematically collect electromagnetic signals"... what does it mean ?

    I guess that using "electromagnetic signals" they can collect data from satellite communication or mobile phone.

    But what about land line communications ? I guess that most people use Internet from land lines...

    so do the spooks spy on those lines ?

  21. JaitcH

    The difference is that France is shafting the French, but America does it to them, too.

    Whilst countries spy on their own citizens, this is less objectionable that the US doing the same thing in France, to the French.

    Whose country is it?

  22. Graham Cobb Silver badge

    Different from PRISM

    This French news is very different from PRISM: PRISM was about the co-operation of commercial companies, allowing NSA to look at the unencrypted services being provided. The French, on the other hand, seem to be limited to watching the traffic on the wires.

    If people use encryption to access their Google/Microsoft/Facebook/... services then watching the traffic on the wire tells them nothing. That is why PRISM exists: to be able to see the actual service being provided.

    Of course, almost all email is still unencrypted so, if the DGSE can catch the email in transit, they can capture it.

    1. Salamamba

      Re: Different from PRISM

      If I remember, use of encryption was, until recently, a criminal offence in france, and some of the statutes remain on the books.

  23. David 45


    Why am I not surprised? I should think every government in the world that has the technical capability to do so is probably spying on the populace at large. However - who watches the watchers?

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