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French Gov't Runs Vast Electronic Spying Operation of Its Own 214

Posted by timothy
from the but-it's-only-wafer-thin-metadata dept.
Freshly Exhumed writes with this news (quoting The Guardian): "France runs a vast electronic surveillance operation, intercepting and stocking data from citizens' phone and internet activity, using similar methods to the U.S. National Security Agency's Prism programme exposed by Edward Snowden, Le Monde has reported. An investigation by the French daily [en français; Google translation] 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."
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French Gov't Runs Vast Electronic Spying Operation of Its Own

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  • See!!? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by FriendlyLurker (50431) on Thursday July 04, 2013 @02:11PM (#44189363)
    Everyone is doing it. It must be ok then... so move along, "don't rock the boat - keep your head down Just another fool in the crowd"...

    /sarcasm

  • by girlintraining (1395911) on Thursday July 04, 2013 @02:12PM (#44189373)

    This has been known publicly since the release of the book the Sword and the Shield in the 1990s, and well-known by most larger companies since well before that even. We're persecuting Snowden for being the Captain Obvious of the intelligence community. "Oh noes! The french are spying on us!" Dude. Fucking duh. The french have been spying on everyone since the dark ages. Hell, where do you think the word sabateur comes from? The french pretty much invented industrial espionage.

    In other news... why are we threatening the lives of other countries leaders and going on a mad witch hunt for Snowden, wheeling and dealing in backroom deals reminiscent of the cold war era again? Oh right... because he came forward and confirmed what everyone either already suspected, or knew. Which was only necessary because so many people are living in a level of denial that makes the comment "Windows 8 is the best operating system ever!" look like criticism. -_-

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 04, 2013 @02:14PM (#44189381)

    France does have a huge population of immigrants from N. Africa who after escaping their oppressive Third World shitholes, riot and protest in France because they don't like the society they live in or some such non-sense.

    It's the same formula - leave oppressive fundamentalist Islamic society for a Western one and then riot because your new country doesn't have oppressive Islamic laws.

    And they wonder why they're prejudiced against.

  • by Dr_Barnowl (709838) on Thursday July 04, 2013 @02:18PM (#44189425)

    Well, duh. Of course they do - this is France, the country that made cryptography illegal [cryptolaw.org] until it was pointed out to them that this was destroying their ability to participate in electronic commerce.

  • by Dr_Barnowl (709838) on Thursday July 04, 2013 @02:21PM (#44189443)

    "Saboteur" refers to the practice of ruining the innards of weaving machines by throwing in your shoes - a type of wooden clog called a "sabot". It has no espionage connotations at all.

    And it probably originates in the Netherlands.

  • by 0123456 (636235) on Thursday July 04, 2013 @02:34PM (#44189525)

    As long as they do not look into the content of our emails/phone calls, we couldn't care less if they check 'who is talking to whom'.

    That's presumably why you're posting anonymously.

  • by Joce640k (829181) on Thursday July 04, 2013 @02:39PM (#44189559) Homepage

    > we couldn't care less if they check 'who is talking to whom'.
    > we
    I think you meant "I".

    Are you 100% sure you know what the people you call do in their free time?

    You might be calling a terrorist/pedophile/drug dealer without knowing it.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 04, 2013 @02:43PM (#44189591)

    Over the last decade or so , there have been quite a few major riots by N. African Muslims in Western Europe - especially France. Most times it's because they are incapbable of living in a Free Secular Western society - a society that treats women as equals.

    For the love of all that is unholy, how the fuck did this go to +2 Insightful?

    You'd understand if you weren't so ignorant, provincial and uninformed.

    ...thanks to aggressive emperialistic aspirations for hundreds of years...

    My great grandparents were mistreated themselves and I don't go around rioting over something that happened to some ancient ancestor of mine. I don't think anyone does this so your reason is unjustified.

  • by geoskd (321194) on Thursday July 04, 2013 @02:50PM (#44189631)

    I don't care if they see I'm talking to a divorce lawyer or AIDS doctor. Really, the whole world can see this. The websites I visit ? Public knowledge and in no way shameful or compromising. My friends ? All of them ordinary, upstanding guys with no political interests or inclination for subversive activities. It's not like I'm one of those Muslims who are all at 5 degrees of separation to a known terrorist. My day to day location and CCTV images ? Public. My full financial data ? No problem there, I'm 100% free of any tax related problem - I have the tax code memorized (all it's 14K pages). I have nothing to hide !

    I have some bad news for you, you are almost certainly within 5 degrees of separation from some "person of interest". Pretty much everyone is. Otherwise why would they have to gather data on everyone.

    The problem isn't that this particular set of collected data is or isn't a danger to all of our freedoms. The problem isn't whether or not there is proper oversight for the people conducting the spying. The problem is that this amount of power will inherently lead to corruptions and abuses, and as such, no government can be trusted with it. The very fact that the government felt the need to conduct this spying in secret is ample evidence that their intentions are not on the up and up. If you tell everyone that you are monitoring who they communicate with, then the paranoid people will act to prevent the eavesdropping, but their behavior alone will single them out, giving the would-be-eavesdroppers just as much useful intelligence as having all of that metadata. The idea that the spying has to be secret to be effective is absurd in practice. Since the given reason for the secrecy is false, the only remaining explanations are far more sinister. We now hear that the french are partaking of this level of spying? Is foreign terrorism that big of a threat in France? I suspect that the biggest terrorist threat in France is the same as the US: good old fashioned homegrown whackjobs. No amount of communication surveillance is going to help find and catch the lone bomber, or the dedicated pair of crazies. There are only two uses for that level of survailance: Post-incident investigation (they already admitted that no one looks at the data in real time). And oppression. Just because it makes the investigators jobs easier for the first option doesn't mean its worth risking the second option.

    -=Geoskd

  • by richlv (778496) on Thursday July 04, 2013 @02:53PM (#44189659)

    woosh ? :)

  • This is not news (Score:4, Insightful)

    by HangingChad (677530) on Thursday July 04, 2013 @03:24PM (#44189829) Homepage

    Long before the Chinese were the country in the hotseat for spying, France and Israel were already established professionals in the industrial espionage arena.

    Before traveling overseas in the late 80s and early 90s we got lectures about how the French probably had bugs and cameras in our hotel rooms and that they routinely spied on visitors.

    Just like the NSA spying shouldn't have been news, but most people act surprised. Seriously, what's the next headline we're going to wake up to? That the Koch family has been funding a vast propaganda network to influence public opinion? That the Chinese have stolen the design of every nuclear warhead in our arsenal? That Pakistan is giving safe harbor to terrorists? Or the FBI was been tipped off and missed both 9/11 and the Boston Marathon bombers?

    It's like living in Groundhog Day.

  • by St.Creed (853824) on Thursday July 04, 2013 @03:57PM (#44190009)

    But the current thread is about the naivete and self delusion necessary to assume that the entire content of letters, email, voice calls, etc is NOT recorded or even scanned, and ONLY metadata is recorded. There isn't shred of evidence to support this view and Snowden and others have specifically stated that it is not so.

    True. However, for most purposes they really only want to know who's talking to who. In most cases, drone-strikes can commence based on just that data. Google "Karen Stephenson" and "The Quantum Theory of Trust" to see why all the agencies are on top of this.

    Also relevant: "I'm looking for needles in haystacks. So I'm gathering haystacks." - Dutch Intelligence Chief. I guess this would explain their modus operandi as far as the "gathering of data" goes.

    The Germans did it first though, with their "Schleppnetzfahndung" (dragnet investigations), in the 1970's. It lead to a lot of innocent people losing their jobs and livelihood due to being suspected of sympathizing with terrorism. I don't need a crystal ball to predict how this round will end, if the crisis continues and people start organizing to put pressure on their local rulers. The gloves *will* come off in that case.

  • by meta-monkey (321000) on Thursday July 04, 2013 @04:40PM (#44190269) Journal

    Yeah, but when we do it, it's not spying, it's Freedom Listening.

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