July 5, 2013
|(LID) François Hollande said US should stop spying. Le Monde revealed French DGSE use similar snooping means (Reuters)
The French Government has been very angry at the the United States because of the NSA Revelations. Perhaps a bit too angry. The French Newspaper, Le Monde has reported that the General Directorate for External Security does the same kind of data collection as the American National Security Agency’s PRISM but does so without clear legal authority. The system is run with “complete discretion, at the margins of legality and outside all serious control,” the newspaper said, describing it as “a-legal.” Which means unlike the US program there is no court approval. The French Database is available to the various police and security agencies of France, the newspaper reported, and the data is stored for an indeterminate period. The main interest of the agency, the paper said, is to trace who is talking to whom, when and from where and for how long, rather than in listening in to random conversations. Apparently just like the PRISM also record data from large American networks like Google and Facebook according to Le Monde.
Connections inside France and between France and other countries are all monitored, Le Monde reports. The paper alleges the data is being stored on three basement floors of the DGSE building in Paris. The secret service is the French equivalent of Britain’s MI6.
The operation is designed, say experts, to uncover terrorist cells. But the scale of it means that “anyone can be spied on, any time”, Le Monde says.
According to the paper, French officials privately claim the that there was a difference between data collection in the name of security while French officials have been collecting data about American citizens they do not spy on the American Embassy in France (American officials are skeptical of those reassurances, and have pointed out that France has an aggressive and amply financed espionage system of its own).
What makes this revelation particularly hypocritical is just yesterday the French Interior Minister Manuel Valls was the guest of honor at the US Embassy’s 4th of July party, and rewarded the hospitality by making a speech bashing his host’s for the NSA spying program, all the while his country was running a similar program.
June 22, 2013
Skype Provided Backdoor Access To The NSA Before Microsoft Takeover.HT: Other and the InfiniteUnknown. Skype Provided Backdoor Access to the NSA Before Microsoft Takeover (Softpedia, June 20, 2013): The NSA saga continues in the Redmond-based empire, this time with a new report aimed at Microsoft’s flagship VoIP platform Skype. A report published by The New York Times and citing people who asked not to be named for obvious reasons, Skype developed its own user-monitoring system before the Microsoft acquisition in October 2011. It appears that US intelligence agencies have insisted that local software companies must cooperate closer with the NSA, so it asked several top vendors, including Skype, to put together secret teams to develop systems that would provide them with backdoor access to users’ conversations. The source claims that the NSA wanted “to control the process themselves” and thus skip the process of contacting the parent company and asking for details on select user accounts. This is how Skype Project Chess was born. “Less than a dozen people inside Skype” have been asked to develop a hidden system that would allow the NSA to access conversations and user details at any time. Skype officially joined the PRISM program on February 6, 2011, so it’s believed that the backdoor access system was already up and running at that time, more than half a year before the Microsoft acquisition was completed. It’s not yet confirmed, but it appears that those tools have already been removed from Skype, as part of Microsoft’s network updates over the years. Tipsters, on the other hand, claim that companies involved in this NSA secret plan have kept the monitoring systems to “control the process themselves.” The interesting thing is that Microsoft is now refusing to comment on this report, even though the company has often denied stories claiming that Skype calls can be wiretapped. The only thing we got from Microsoft in the PRISM scandal is the public statement rolled out this month and claiming that it never provides user details to the government on a voluntary basis.
“We provide customer data only when we receive a legally binding order or subpoena to do so, and never on a voluntary basis. In addition we only ever comply with orders for requests about specific accounts or identifiers. If the government has a broader voluntary national security program to gather customer data we don’t participate in it.”