This weekend's epic indignation by Francois Hollande at the NSA, coupled with his laughable ultimatum for Barack Obama to stop spying, was almost good enough to mask the fact that none other than France has its own version of the NSA happily intercepting and recording every form of electronic communication. Almost.
Overnight French Le Monde reported that "France, like the United States with the Prism system, has a large-scale espionage telecommunications device. Le Monde is able to reveal that the General Directorate for External Security (DGSE, special services) has systematically collected and spied on the electromagnetic signals emitted by computers or phones in France, as well as flows between French and abroad all our communications. Politicians are aware of this, but secrecy about the Big Brother operation is the rule."
For the French-speakers out there, here is the full schematic:
France's external intelligence agency spies on the French public's phone calls, emails and social media activity in France and abroad, the daily Le Monde said on Thursday.
It said the DGSE intercepted signals from computers and telephones in France, and between France and other countries, although not the content of phone calls, to create a map of "who is talking to whom". It said the activity was illegal.
"All of our communications are spied on," wrote Le Monde, which based its report on unnamed intelligence sources as well as remarks made publicly by intelligence officials.
"Emails, text messages, telephone records, access to Facebook and Twitter are then stored for years," it said.
The activities described are similar to those carried out by the U.S. National Security Agency, as described in documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.
The documents revealed that the NSA has access to vast amounts of Internet data such as emails, chat rooms and video from large companies such as Facebook and Google, under a program known as Prism.
They also showed that the U.S. government had gathered so-called metadata - such as the time, duration and numbers called - on all telephone calls carried by service providers such as Verizon.
France's DGSE was not immediately available for comment.
France's seven other intelligence services, including domestic secret services and customs and money-laundering watchdogs, have access to the data and can tap into it freely as a means to spot people whose communications seem suspicious, whom they can then track with more intrusive techniques such as phone-tapping, Le Monde wrote.
What is amusing is that some are still surprised by such ongoing revelations. The sad truth is that every "democratic", "developed" government has been violating the privacy of its citizens for years and in this electronic day and age, no such thing as privacy exists.
Which is to be expected: Egypt just showed what happens to "democracy" when it is not properly cultivated by the 1% which has a vested interest in giving the peasantry the impression that people still have rights, and liberties and their vote "counts" just so the public attention is diverted from what truly matters: the endless transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich under the guise of "wealth effect", "democracy", "representation" and other lies.