An investigation by Le Monde has suggested that French intelligence agencies have been monitoring all electronic communications and storing details in a Parisian ‘underground bunker’, independent.co.uk writes.
The French newspaper has accused the Direction Generale de la Securite Exterieure, the country’s foreign intelligence agency, of collecting and recording data that is sent from telephones and computers nationwide. According to the report, this covers SMS messaging, emails, phone calls and social media updates.
Le Monde’s investigation claims that the data is stored in a centre which is said to be the biggest such facility in Europe.
The news comes only weeks after Edward Snowden blew the whistle on PRISM, the US National Security Agency’s ‘spying programme’.
However the French surveillance concerns purely metadata – retaining details regarding when or where the communication was made, not the content, morningstaronline.co.uk writes. That might be somewhat comforting to those businesses and individuals in the UK that routinely contact clients, colleagues, friends or family in France.
The French government has played down the accusations and insisted that its information gathering system is nothing like the American one. In fact, it has recently demanded that US surveillance of foreign embassies ceases.
Regardless, the intelligence agency did not comment, leaving Le Monde reporters to write: “The politicians know about it, but secrecy is the rule: this French Big Brother is clandestine. It is out of control.”