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Newspaper: France sweeps up data, too

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By The Associated Press
Thursday, July 4, 2013, 8:54 p.m.

PARIS — A leading French newspaper said France's intelligence services have put in place a giant electronic surveillance gathering network.

Citing no sources, the Le Monde daily said France's Direction Generale de la Securite Exterieure, the country's foreign intelligence agency, systematically collects information about electronic data sent by computers and telephones in France, as well as communications between France and abroad.

According to Le Monde, data on “all emails, SMSs, telephone calls, Facebook and Twitter posts” are collected and stored in a three-floor underground bunker at the DGSE's headquarters in Paris. The paper specified that it is the communications' metadata — such as when a call was made and where an author was when she sent an email — that is being archived, not their content.

Officials at the DGSE did not answer phone calls or emails seeking comment on Thursday.

The vast archive, which Le Monde said amounts to tens of millions of gigabytes, is accessible to France's other spy agencies, including military intelligence, domestic intelligence, Paris police and a special financial crimes task force.

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