• France's news in English
 
app_header_v3

PM 'orders smartphone crackdown' over spying

Ben McPartland · 10 Sep 2013, 19:56

Published: 10 Sep 2013 19:56 GMT+02:00

According to L’Express newspaper the order was made in a note from the PM's office, which was handed to ministries after the summer break.

In the letter dated August 19th, a senior member of Ayrault’s staff, Christopher Chantepy, listed a number of points ministers and their staff needed to take heed of in the future.

One of the demands that stood out was a request to ministers to stop using their smartphones for any sensitive communications, unless they were equipped with approved security devices.

The memo also told ministers to avoid sending text messages to each other.

To justify the measure, the circular pointed to the recent “security threats” in recent months, which is believed to be a reference to the American NSA's spying programme PRISM.

"The recent security breaches of information systems had led to us issuing a reminder of the basic rules," Ayrault's office said.

The NSA was alleged to have bugged diplomatic offices belonging to both France and the EU in New York and Washington.

Those allegations drew an angry response from Paris.

"We cannot accept this kind of behaviour between partners and allies," said the French president François Hollande, calling for it to “stop immediately”.

Even if the furore has died down somewhat in recent weeks, the French government is not taking any chances, it seems.

From now on any highly classified information must only be transmitted over specially encrypted telephones and all electronic documents can only be transferred using the government’s secure ISIS system, the French PM has ordered.

Although most documents will not be classified, the note from the PM warns: “they could harm individuals or the nation and efforts should be made to protect them.”

Story continues below…

According to L’Express, which has published the note from the PM, the Interior Ministry has obeyed the instructions, with most members of staff using encrypted Samsung phones on which it is not possible to install applications and geo-tagging cannot be enabled.

However, several ministers and their staff are still opting to use their normal smartphones, l’Express reports.

In his note, the French PM has also warned staff not to insert a USB key unless they know exactly where it came from and that it is safe and not to click on any attachments in messages without checking them first.

Last month a French court opened a formal investigation into the PRISM program of electronic surveillance run by the US National Security Agency.

Ben McPartland (ben.mcpartland@thelocal.com)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Frenchman surfs again after shark bites off his leg
All photos: AFP

Meet the amputee Frenchman who is surfing again he was attacked by a shark.

Paris motorists to fund city's public transport system
Photo: AFP

Motorists in the Ile-de-France region will be hit by a tax rise in order to finance the city's trains and buses.

More French women becoming mothers after 40
French mums are getting older. File photo: Pexels

French mums are getting older, but the overall birthrate has fallen.

Paris police bust high-rolling gang of pram thieves
Photo: Joe Shlabotnik/Flickr

A gang of thieves has been caught after they pinched an estimated €100,000 worth of prams.

French banned from 'Mona Lisa smile' on photo IDs
You can forget a smile like this on your passport photo.

The French are going to have to remain grumpy-looking, at least on their passport photos.

French fighter jets 'take off on mission against Isis'
A rafale fighter jet takes off from the French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle. Photo: AFP

French fighter jets have reportedly taken off for an operation in Mosul, Iraq.

It's official: France finally gets its new map
Photo: AFP

So, how well do you know the new map?

Sexism at the wheel: France wants more women drivers
Photo: State Farm/Flickr

Because the men are causing all the accidents.

VIDEOS: France's raunchiest TV commercials of all time
Photo: Gifi

Two sexually-charged adverts have got people hot under the collar in France, a little strange perhaps given the history of the French for making raunchy adverts. Take a look back through time at these famously steamy ads.

Why are foreign students in France 'Europe's unhappiest'?
Students at a university in Normandy. Photo: AFP

... for the fourth year in a row.

Sponsored Article
Why Jordan is the ‘Different’ East
Education
The troubles with French universities laid bare
Culture
The crazy French writing phrases you can't get your head around
Features
Room for improvement: Paris's matchbox apartments
'Stop telling immigrants to be French and help it happen'
Society
Take the test: How far have you assimilated into French culture?
Lifestyle
Eleven things you should know before moving to Paris
National
France's Marion Cotillard rebuffs rumours of fling with Brad Pitt
National
Eight arrested over links to Nice truck attacker
Features
Why everyone should party in a French chateau at least once
Travel
The Frenchman who hated 'Nazi-Zealand' after four-day hitch-hike fail
Culture
What's on: Ten exciting events across France in September
The 45-million year old underground shells that flavour Champagne
Features
French job speak: All the terms you need to know
'Resilient' Paris now a more appealing city than New York
National
France says it's OK to warn drivers about speed cameras
Meet Honorine, 113, the oldest person in France
Education
Grenoble named France's best city to be a student
Society
New Metro map reveals cheapest pints of beer in Paris
Business & Money
How reliant is the French economy on Paris?
Society
Here's why Parisians want to move to Bordeaux
And the 'best place to spend a weekend in Europe' is… Lyon
Analysis & Opinion
'Muslims in France must be considered ordinary citizens'
Armed guards to ride French trains from October
2,728
jobs available