France Has U.S.-Like Spy Program

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
July 5 2013 11:40 AM

Surprise: France Spies on Its Citizens, Too

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French President Francois Hollande has angrily criticized similar American programs

Photo by LIONEL BONAVENTURE/AFP/Getty Images.

The NSA’s once-secret surveillance program unsurprisingly has company in Europe. French newspaper Le Monde reported yesterday that France has a secret electronic surveillance apparatus that relies on many of the same tactics as the American programs.  

Le Monde wrote that the program focuses on French computers and phone communications between people both in the country and abroad. Companies like Facebook, Twitter, Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo were all implicated in the paper’s report. Terming the program "French Big Brother,” the newspaper warned readers that "all of our communications are spied on."

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The revelation comes after French President François Hollande condemned the United States’ secret surveillance of communications with foreign allies—a rebuke that now seems, as the New York Times amusingly put it, “somewhat hollow.”

France also revealed that it had received an asylum request from Edward Snowden, whose leaks of classified documents revealed the NSA program. The country said it would reject his application.

Jeffrey Bloomer is a Slate assistant editor focused on video. Follow him on Twitter.