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.

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

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: 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.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: 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…

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: 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.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: 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.

Scott Barnes (profile) says:

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.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

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.

Scott (profile) says:

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.

Scott says:

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, ????

Scott says:

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.

Jerrymiah (profile) says:

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.

Scott says:

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.

Scott Barnes (profile) says:

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.

Scott Barnes (profile) says:

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.

Scott Barnes (profile) says:

Re: NSA snoops on ASIO/CIA/DCS/ISA

Just to think in 1973 I was first at Pine Gap, Australia near Alice Springs working with ASIO/ASA/CIA on operations going on at the Woommera Rocket range and later i was sent to Vietnam and then to Yakamia, WA., ASA/NSA base of operations.

Never would I have thought having grown up in both Palos Verdes and then Redondo Beach, being sent to the TRW M-4 building and vault little did i realize Christopher Boyce was involved there as well.Later after my Army service, i would in 1974-5 be involved back at TRW M-4 again.

Then years later as a member of the USAISA unit known as ” Activity” or ISA. But interesting to note that over the next 40+ years i would become involved in the 1992 PRESIDENTIAL RACE TO GET ROSS PEROT OUT OF THE RACE ALL for the “Black Unit” in the FBI and the “NCS ” in the CIA, from Rewald/CIA leaks to Perot and now retired. Wrote BOHICA and the rest is history……………..

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