Report: France has its own PRISM-like surveillance program

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Le Monde newspaper reports that France has a "Big Brother" program of its own that collects metadata from internet use and telephone calls.

France is also collecting an "immense" amount of computer and telephone data in a system similar to the controversial US PRISM program, according to French newspaper Le Monde.

The newspaper's scoop said that French intelligence agency DGSE collects electronic data from telephone and internet traffic both within France and between France and other countries.

The "Big Brother"-like operation stores metadata from text messages, emails and "all internet activity" such as use of Google, Facebook, and Yahoo in a massive database.

Like the American program, the French modus operandi is not to not examine the content of the messages — just "metadata," including who is speaking to whom, and when and where they're talking.

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Le Monde called the program, which experts say is designed to thwart terror cells, "outside the law, and beyond any proper supervision."

The revelation might explain the muted response from French President Francois Hollande after the US National Security Agency scandal was first revealed by former contractor Edward Snowden.

The Financial Times wrote that the low-key response was "probably reflecting [France's] own sympathy over the collection of such data."

Hollande has since criticized the US for allegedly spying on European Union diplomats, however, and threatened to stall key trade negotiations.

"We cannot accept this kind of behavior from partners and allies," Hollande said on French television on Monday.