France denies mass `Big Brother` spying reports
Johannesburg: France has denied a report claiming that it runs a vast electronic spying operation on its citizens.
But newspaper Le Monde stuck by its story on Friday, warning that `French Big Brother is Watching`.
In an article Le Monde claimed French intelligence services have been intercepting all communications in the country, stocking telephone and computer data for years in what it said was an illegal operation, news24 reports.
The report claimed that the DGSE, France`s external intelligence agency, `systematically collects electromagnetic signals emitted by computers in France, and the data feed between France and abroad.
According to the report, data collected from telephone conversations, e-mails, text messages, Facebook and Twitter are then stored for years on a supercomputer where other security services can access them.
Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault`s office said the impression of a sweeping surveillance operation was `inexact`.
An official from Ayrault`s office said that several services conduct monitoring operations for security reasons.
The revelations came amid outrage in Europe over claims by US NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden that European institutions were spied on by the National Security Agency`s Prism programme.
France instantly reacted and pushed for the European Union to delay talks with Washington on a huge free trade pact that is slated to be the world`s largest, the report said.
Le Monde said in an editorial that the spying was aimed at adapting to `new needs in the fight against terrorism and organised crime`.
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