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The French Government has been very angry at the the United States because of the NSA Revelations.  Perhaps a bit too angry.  The French Newspaper, Le Monde has reported that the General Directorate for External Security does the same kind of data collection as the American National Security Agency’s PRISM but does so without clear legal authority.
The system is run with “complete discretion, at the margins of legality and outside all serious control,” the newspaper said, describing it as “a-legal.” Which means unlike the US program there is no court approval.

The French Database is available to the various police and security agencies of France, the newspaper reported, and the data is stored for an indeterminate period. The main interest of the agency, the paper said, is to trace who is talking to whom, when and from where and for how long, rather than in listening in to random conversations. Apparently just like the PRISM  also record data from large American networks like Google and Facebook according to Le Monde.

Connections inside France and between France and other countries are all monitored, Le Monde reports. The paper alleges the data is being stored on three basement floors of the DGSE building in Paris. The secret service is the French equivalent of Britain’s MI6.

The operation is designed, say experts, to uncover terrorist cells. But the scale of it means that “anyone can be spied on, any time”, Le Monde says.

According to the paper, French officials privately claim the  that there was a difference between data collection in the name of security while French officials have been collecting data about American citizens they do not spy on the American Embassy in France (American officials are skeptical of those reassurances, and have pointed out that France has an aggressive and amply financed espionage system of its own).

What makes this revelation particularly hypocritical is just yesterday the French Interior Minister Manuel Valls was the guest of honor at the US Embassy’s 4th of July party, and rewarded the hospitality by making a speech bashing his host’s for the NSA spying program, all the while his country was running a similar program.

I’m Shocked, Shocked I Tell You.

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