• France's news in English

US spying: Rights groups file lawsuit in France

Ben McPartland · 11 Jul 2013, 09:57

Published: 11 Jul 2013 09:57 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Just as the transatlantic row over allegations the US spied on French and European Union envoys appeared to be dying down, it is set to be stoked up in a French court on Thursday.

In the wake of the Snowden affair, two human rights organisations are set to lodge a complaint with a court aimed at exploring whether a raft of American IT firms including Google, Yahoo and Apple had cooperated with US authorities to help them gather intelligence.

In a statement released on Thursday the International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH) and the French League of Human Rights (LDH) attacked the mass surveillance of global communications by US intelligence services that was carried out "under the guise of the fight against terrorism and organised crime".

"This uncontrolled intrusion into people's lives is a significant threat to individual liberties and must be curbed at the risk of seeing the rule of law disappear. So the FIDH and LDH have asked a French court to open a judicial investigation into these matters," the statement said.

Lawyers said the groups would file the 'complaint against X' in Paris. Under French law, such complaints allow investigators to pursue a wide-ranging probe against nine US firms as well as US intelligence agencies.

In the name of defending human rights, the organisations believe a court process can clarify the roles played by IT giants like Microsoft and Google in the US PRISM surveillance programme.

Other firms the rights groups want French authorities to investigate are Facebook, YouTube, AOL, Paltalk and Skype. All the firms have denied any collaboration with US intelligence agencies.

“We have never seen such an infringement on individual freedoms, to such a large scale, from a foreign nation and it potentially affects all French citizens and all French internet users when they use Google, Microsoft, Apple, Skype and other companies,” Emmanuel Daoud, the lawyer for the two rights organisations told France Info radio.

Daoud denounced a “massive collection of personal data without permission.”

He said these companies “may have made their servers available to the FBI and NSA, which the US intelligence agencies penetrated to collect the data of internet users using these companies.”

Daoud claims these IT giants may not have been telling “the whole truth” when they claim they were not aware of the PRISM programme.

Story continues below…

The lawyer added that the French subsidiaries of these companies are also likely to be the subject of investigation under accusations that they allowed “unauthorised access to data processing systems, collecting personal data, as well as violating privacy around secret electronic correspondence.”

According to leaked documents by former CIA operative Edward Snowden, US intelligence agencies, through the PRISM programme, spied on global communications.

The scandal opened up a transatlantic row when documents were leaked that claimed to prove the US had spied on the French embassy in Washington DC as well as offices of the European Union.

Ben McPartland (ben.mcpartland@thelocal.com)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Calais migrants given mixed reception in French towns
Photo: AFP

Some in France have shown solidarity with their new guests, while others have made it clear they are not welcome.

Lonely Planet says Bordeaux is world's best city to visit
The fantastic new Bordeaux wine museum. Photo: AFP

After The Local France, the Lonely Planet has followed suit by urging everyone to head to Bordeaux in 2017.

Jungle shacks set ablaze and torn down as camp razed
All photos: AFP

IN PICTURES: The razing of the Jungle has finally begun.

Frenchwoman finds WW1 grenade among her spuds
Photo: AFP

It could have been a very explosive family dinner.

Refugee crisis
What rights to a future in France for Calais migrants?
Photo: AFP

What does the future hold for the migrants of the Jungle? Can they work or claim social benefits or travel freely inside Europe?

Pampers nappies 'contain carcinogenics': French study
Photo: Robert Valencia/Flick

The substances in the nappies are meant to prevent skin irritation but are cancerous, the study concludes.

France to scrap special prison wings for dangerous jihadists
Photo: AFP

The experiment has been ditched.

Myth busting: Half of French adults are now overweight
A model at the Pulp Fiction fashion show in Paris that represents society's diverse spectrum . Photo: AFP

Hold on, aren't the French all meant to be finely toned specimens with not an ounce of fat on them?

France poised to send bulldozers into Calais Jungle
Photo: AFP

As hundreds of migrants leave, the bulldozers are set to tear down the sprawling Calais shanty town on Tuesday.

UK to spend €40 million on securing Calais border
Photo: AFP

Britain spending big on security in Calais.

The annoying questions only a half French, half Brit can answer
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Forget Brangelina's chateau - here are nine others you've got to see
The must-see French films of the millennium - Part One
How life for expats in France has changed over the years
Why Toulouse is THE place to be in France right now
Video: New homage to Paris shows the 'real side' of city
The 'most dangerous' animals you can find in France
Swap London fogs for Paris frogs: France woos the Brits
Anger after presenter kisses woman's breasts on live TV
Is France finally set for a cold winter this year?
IN PICS: The story of the 'ghost Metro stations' of Paris
How to make France's 'most-loved' dish: Magret de Canard
Welcome to the flipside: 'I'm not living the dream in France'
Do the French really still eat frogs' legs?
French 'delicacies' foreigners really find hard to stomach
French are the 'world's most pessimistic' about the future
Why the French should not be gloomy about the future
This is the most useful French lesson you will ever have. How to get angry
Why is there a giant clitoris in a field in southern France?
French pastry wars: Pain au chocolat versus chocolatine
Countdown: The ten dishes the French love the most
Expats or immigrants in France: Is there a difference?
How the French reinvented dozens of English words
jobs available