Leak Shows NSA Grabbed Data On 70 Million French Phone Calls In Less Than 30 Days

from the no-wonder-its-data-centers-are-bursting-into-flames dept

Another leak has been released from Edward Snowden's files, this one covered by French newspaper Le Monde. Sam Jones, writing for The Guardian, breaks down the details.

The report in Le Monde, which carries the byline of the outgoing Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald, who worked with Snowden to lay bare the extent of the NSA's actions, claims that between 10 December 2012 and 8 January 2013 the NSA recorded 70.3m phone calls in France.
According to the paper, the documents show that the NSA was allegedly targeting not only terrorist suspects but politicians, businesspeople and members of the administration under a programme codenamed US-985D.

"The agency has several collection methods," Le Monde said. "When certain French phone numbers are dialled, a signal is activated that triggers the automatic recording of certain conversations. This surveillance also recovers SMS and content based on keywords."
Le Monde says "recording" but according to the Washington Post, the NSA grabbed the metadata on 70 million calls and recorded an unknown number of calls originating from certain phone numbers. Even considering the fact that intelligence agencies consider foreign surveillance to be completely normal (and, importantly, not granted the limited protections provided to the American public), the breadth of this collection has drawn some harsh criticism from French legislators.
The French government has summoned the US ambassador in Paris, demanding an explanation about claims that the National Security Agency has been engaged in widespread phone surveillance of French citizens…

The French foreign minister, Laurent Fabius, warned: "This sort of practice between partners that invades privacy is totally unacceptable and we have to make sure, very quickly, that this no longer happens."
Partners or not, grabbing data on 70.3 million phone calls in less than 30 days means there's little being done in the way of targeting (much like here at home). Instead of answering this leak directly, spokespeople for the agency pointed to a statement made by James Clapper all the way back in June -- the one that says all these collections are "legal" and subject to "Congressional oversight." Clapper's canned statement also refers to the NSA's programs being used to "thwart terrorist and cyber-attacks against the US and its allies," but that hardly explains some of the phone calls that were "targeted."
According to the paper, the documents show that the NSA was allegedly targeting not only terrorist suspects but politicians, businesspeople and members of the administration under a programme codenamed US-985D.
Additionally, Le Monde states that unpublished information it obtained indicates massive phone surveillance on private citizens as well as more evidence of the agency delving into the "secrets of major national firms." This latter part was also an issue in Brazil, another country where diplomatic relations have been strained by revelations of the NSA's activities. Earlier leaks indicating the NSA spied on foreign embassies resulted in French president François Hollande threatening to suspend TAFTA negotiations. This latest leak only adds to the strain, even if a large majority of that "strain" has been, up to this point, political posturing.

The fact that the French government does plenty of its own domestic surveillance under a PRISM-esque program also indicates this call for an answer from the American ambassador to France may be more of the same. Nothing distracts from domestic surveillance issues like stories of another country's intrusive efforts -- efforts France's intelligence agencies may likely benefit from.

The above isn't meant to downplay the seriousness of what's going here. The NSA is collecting even more metadata (and intercepting an unknown number of phone calls). If this leak is simply a snapshot of an ongoing program (like the Section 215 collections in the US), then the agency is likely grabbing data on upwards of 800 million phone calls a year -- in just one country.



Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 21st, 2013 @ 10:59am

    Prepare for the shitstorm.

    About fucking time too.

     

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  2.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 21st, 2013 @ 11:05am

    The citizens of the world need to organize an abandon communications technology day in which we all walk away from technology. Rallies are fine but they rarely have enough turnout to make an impact. Perhaps a few hundred million people dropping their carriers and providers will make them wake up.

     

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  3.  
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    Glen, Oct 21st, 2013 @ 11:11am

    I can't remember where I read a second report but it was reported that the NSA was recording President Calderon phones also. I guess just another shitstorm our spies to deny. Dumbasses!!!

     

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  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 21st, 2013 @ 11:14am

    This gives "Spies Like US" a whole new meaning.

     

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  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 21st, 2013 @ 11:19am

    I hope countries like say Italy, or Austria or whatever, aren't like "So they spied on Germany, France and Brazil...but they wouldn't do it to us!"

    It's pretty clear US does this to every single country in Europe, Latin America, and Asia. If they think they are exceptions they're fooling themselves.

     

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  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 21st, 2013 @ 11:21am

    Re:

    At the pace of the revelations, this stuff is going to be coming out for years to come.

     

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  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 21st, 2013 @ 11:28am

    Well, I can see Alcatel-Lucent stocks plummeting back down, since it was suggested that the NSA put in a backdoor on them. Given the company hasn't been doing that hot lately anyways, this might just be the push off the cliff.

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 21st, 2013 @ 11:38am

    Yay for HADOPI!

     

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  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 21st, 2013 @ 11:41am

    So how does a programme that may be OK in the USA get to be OK in France? I doubt if the French government is going to like that anymore than the USA would like it if the situation was reversed

     

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  10.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 21st, 2013 @ 11:42am

    Re:

    Disregard that. (if you're from the U.K) Blanket ignorance from mainstream news is in full effect.

    Euro News - French politicians going apeshit
    BBC - Nothing
    CH4 News - Nothing

    Everything but this story.
    Bus lanes being closed in Liverpool is one of the headlines on the BBC, really, fucking bus lanes.


    Can anyone else from the U.K confirm or prove me wrong ?



    Everyone else can... Fire up your UK based VPN and go to tvcatchup.com to see for yourself.

     

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  11.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 21st, 2013 @ 11:49am

    Re:

    I do believe the US just got it's 70 millionth strike and will now be cut off from the internet.

     

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  12.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 21st, 2013 @ 12:09pm

    Why are they looking for terrorist in France? The French are pussies there is no way in hell any terrorist are coming from France.

    /s

    Sorry, I'm teasing, blame Pip.

     

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  13.  
    identicon
    Anon-Y-Mouse, Oct 21st, 2013 @ 12:47pm

    Re:

    It may take a company of two going belly up over the backlash to get anything done. Remember the people at the top are the ones have the control. When their supporters are hurt, they will finally feel the pinch.

     

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  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 21st, 2013 @ 1:09pm

    Re:

    This isn't OK in the USA!

     

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  15.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 21st, 2013 @ 1:42pm

    How our governments think

    A terrorist was caught on camera eating french fries. France is full of french people. All communications had to be recorded to determine who is supplying all of these french fries to terrorists. It's not coincidence that John Kerry just so happens to be there this week. His wife owns Heinz. He can relate since the terrorists used ketchup on those french fries.

     

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  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 21st, 2013 @ 1:47pm

    Ooh! 70 MILLION terror suspects in France alone! That most must have resulted in how many terror suspects apprehended?

     

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  17.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 21st, 2013 @ 1:48pm

    Re:

    The problems here are not the spying in itself or some teenie french politicians getting their feelings hurt.

    The problems are:
    - The extend of 70 million taps in a country in a month is impossible to sufficiently extract information from without a massively larger staff than NSA has, suggesting much of it is "just in case" and only superficially searched.
    - The targets being politicians is what to expect, but businessmen makes for access to company secrets and other very sensitive information. Collecting it in lieu of later being able to stop a new crisis is a ridiculous exageration of the datas values in predicting a future crisis. The real value is in selling information to US companies and that should be excessively criminal since it warps markets based on who NSA tells these secrets to, not to mention the foreign affairs effects when France finds out...

     

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  18.  
    identicon
    Mark Wing, Oct 21st, 2013 @ 1:51pm

    "Le Oops"

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 21st, 2013 @ 2:49pm

    Re: Re:

    I'm far less concerned about the NSA spying on people in government and businesses than on ordinary people. In fact, my outrage would only increase were these people to get a pass when the rest of our communications are being intruded upon.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    icon
    Scott Barnes (profile), Oct 21st, 2013 @ 3:08pm

    NSA Threats and Intimadation

    Today I received two calls from the NSA at a number i never gave them. They called from 301-688-6327 and 301-688-6524. I had filed a formal complaint of electronic abuses and how my name got involved. The OIG office refused to discuss the matter and i sent two formal online complaints. Hours later i received two calls from the above numbers, making threats and trying to intimate me. The staff asked me how i got an inside classified number to call back on ? I said i hit my redial after missing your call to me just minutes ago. She became so violent and hostile on the phone, i said i would send a complaint to the White House, and the FBI, she " Warned me not too" so something is very amiss and wrong when out of the blue the NSA calls you and tells you not to complain ? so I filed a complaint to 4 of her bosses in the NSA, Keith Alexander, OIG Dr. George Ellard and her immediate supervisor Tab (?) Benarte so folks now i see how the abuses of the NSA are becoming all too real.

     

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  21.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Oct 21st, 2013 @ 3:45pm

    Re: NSA Threats and Intimadation

    The staff asked me how i got an inside classified number to call back on


    An odd reaction, since they aren't classified numbers.

    301-688-6327 is the public number of the Office of the Inspector General, and 301-688-6524 is the public number of the Public Affairs/Media office of the NSA.

     

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  22.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 21st, 2013 @ 4:34pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    The filtering of normal people vs business people is extraordinarily hard anyway. What I was pointing to was the fact that they have programs with the explicit intention of "gathering data on foreign economic interests to prevent any future economic crisis". Such programs are industrial espionage in political disguise as a necessary program to keep people safe. Cowardise at its worst.

     

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  23.  
    identicon
    Jerrymiah, Oct 21st, 2013 @ 4:57pm

    Leak Shows NSA Grabbed Data On 70 Million French Phone Calls In Less Than 30 Days

    At the rate it's going, the US will not have any friends left in the world except may be the Five Eyes, although with them, things may change ans some of them are presently reconsidering this devil's alliance. I guess Obama does not like having friends in the world. May be he's getting ready to start the Third World War. One thing is sure, the Russians are really having a good laugh at all this right now.

     

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  24.  
    icon
    Postulator (profile), Oct 21st, 2013 @ 8:39pm

    The NSA knows all

    I'd like the NSA to do something useful for once, and tell me where my next job will be.

     

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  25.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 22nd, 2013 @ 1:37am

    USA only cares about itself.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
    identicon
    Paul Keating, Oct 22nd, 2013 @ 3:33am

    I understand that Bin Laden is claimed to have said, the 9/11 event was simply the trigger to the US's own self destruction. I am increasingly worried that that maniac may have been correct.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
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    Ninja (profile), Oct 22nd, 2013 @ 4:17am

    They called the US ambassador to try to develop a bilateral agreement on sharing the info. You know, exchanging the dough. This "outrage" is just a facade. /conspiracynut (or is it?)

     

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  28.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 22nd, 2013 @ 4:30am

    and remember, the odds are that all this data is likely being shared with the UK, if not others as well! that wont go down very well with the French, i'll bet!

     

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  29.  
    identicon
    Scott, Oct 22nd, 2013 @ 7:30am

    Re: Re: NSA Threats and Intimadation

    That is exactly what i told Karen Phillips when she called only thing is the numbers show up on most all the outbound secured lines they use to call people to intimidate them. SO you think your getting a call from OIG or PIO, since that is the cover numbers they show.

    So i had a friend at Shin Bet, ASIO and one other group and good enough they had the same cover numbers show up. So they are not secured lines according to Karen Phillips that is a guise they use. I no longer have any trust or faith in any of our 18+ intelligence groups.

     

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  30.  
    identicon
    Scott, Oct 22nd, 2013 @ 8:02am

    Re: Re: Re: NSA Threats and Intimadation

    Not only has the NSA been snooping and lying about it, they have been intercepting fax's to the Supremen Court 1-202-479-3057, the White House internal ushers office 202-456-2650 the US DOJ " SKIF" office 3rd floor at 202-514-5247 so the list of illicit eavesdropping and electronic monitoring and intercepting is so much bigger that U know. Try asking NSA at 301-688-5166 about his illicit monitoring on insider stock info, ????

     

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  31.  
    identicon
    Scott, Oct 22nd, 2013 @ 8:06am

    NSA

    REMEMBER THE NSA IS MONITORING THIS SITE AS WELL B-Group is doing this.

     

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  32.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 22nd, 2013 @ 5:08pm

    I bet the French government authorized the NSA spying. France is the 11th eye. Started out as 5 eyes, now we're at 11 eyes!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
    identicon
    Scott, Oct 22nd, 2013 @ 6:33pm

    Re: Re: Re: NSA Threats and Intimadation

    Karen Phillips at the NSA saw my post and sent a threatening message so now the FBI and Internal Affairs are going to get involved. Shame on YOU Karen Phillips at the NSA 1-301-688-6524, I told you i would report you and i have to US DOJ, NSA OIG, General Alexander's office and yes the W.H. as well as many others. So stop using this public form to lie and your now uncovered.

     

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  34.  
    identicon
    Scott, Oct 22nd, 2013 @ 6:52pm

    NSA Abuse Karen Phillips makes THREATS

    My post item # 30 where i named Karen Phillips, from the NSA went off the deep end she sent a traced back to her, a hate and threatening message. Forwarded it to the FBI US DOJ, OPR, OIG, and the W.H. so folks remember the NSA is monitoring these posts, thank Karen for exposing your NSA threats now the investigations of NSA lies, abuse and illicit activity by you are exposed.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35.  
    icon
    Scott Barnes (profile), Oct 23rd, 2013 @ 4:38pm

    NSA abuses and Fraud more threats

    The fake lady who says she is in charge of the OIG/NSA Hotline is at it again changes names from Karen Phillips to now Christina ? but she did provide the following information on abuses ongoing in her department and the NSA over all. With her threats being traced back to her , and now criminal investigations are open, she should be forewarned releasing classified information and making threats of harm to children are not taken lightly. Her boss George Ellard she says is a pig, so ? This number is one she accesses for secured harassing people 301-688-7722 her number is 301-688-6524 or call the Director of NIC Charles McCullough III 703-482-1300 or her best one is to call the crazy co-worker at 301-688-6911 that gal is a real nut job,but the best one she said since she does NOT like Obama call him at his residence WH number and tell him off at 202-456-2650 this one is for real the Ushers office Claire to the Presidents Residence . So one thing for sure is NSA is way out of control and out of touch with reality.

     

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  36.  
    icon
    Scott Barnes (profile), Oct 26th, 2013 @ 8:58am

    NSA snoops on ASIO

    The NSA with DCS have been snooping on our allies, in Australia at Pine Gap, Woomera Test Range and the ASIO, Australia Security Intelligence Agency, as well as our own staff at Edwards AFB, CA and China Lake Naval Weapons Center, Ridgecret, CA the NSA is indeed as was told to me by the OIG Dr. George Ellard personal assistant. Folks NSA staffers use the Gray secured tech to get insider tips on stock to buy so they get the information before the public does, fraud and abuses continue.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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