According to Le Monde newspaper, France has a vast surveillance network, storing data on a supercomputer housed on three basement floors of the DGSE (Direction générale de la sécurité extérieure) foreign intelligence service headquarters in Paris.
The newspaper alleges that French authorities were aware of the existence and extent of the US PRISM surveillance system before the revelations of Snowden.
The French system intercepts internet traffic, phone calls, text messages, and access to social networking sites and stores the metadata ‘for years’.
Although the DGSE is supposed to operate outside of France, the newspaper claims that six other agencies also have access to the data though secret arrangements, which it claims borders on the illegal. The other agencies are said to include the French customs service and the domestic intelligence service (DCRI).
In other news, France is one of the member states of the European parliament that has voted to scrap two data sharing agreements with the US unless the US reveals the full extent of its surveillance operation in Europe.
Both data-sharing deals – the Terrorist Finance Tracking Program (TFTP) and Passenger Name Records (PNR) were agreed shortly after the September 11, 2001 attacks, despite apprehension surrounding whether or not they would give the US too much access to European data.
The resolution to end the agreements unless the US reveals its surveillance practices was passed on Thursday by a vote of 483-98 with 65 abstentions, although it must be approved by EU governments and the executive commission.