French prosecutor starts preliminary inquiry into Prism privacy violations

Two human rights organizations contend that NSA and FBI spying may have violated French law

Allegations that the U.S. National Security Agency spied on French citizens with its Prism program have prompted the French public prosecutor to begin a preliminary inquiry, a court spokeswoman said Thursday.

The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the French Human Rights League (LDH) filed a 16-page complaint against persons unknown with the Paris High Court on July 11.

In it they alleged that a number of offenses had been committed, including collection of personal data by illegal means, breach of privacy, fraudulent access to a computer system and interception of electronic communications.

They asked the public prosecutor to investigate the alleged offenses, which they said were revealed in documents released in June by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

A French court should investigate because French law applies when the victim of a crime is French, even if it is committed outside the country, the FIDH and the LDH said in their complaint.

The documents revealed by Snowden indicate that the NSA and the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation may have committed a number of offenses under French law, the two organizations claimed. In addition, they said, companies named in the documents including AOL, Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Yahoo could be considered accomplices.

The prosecutor has now begun a preliminary inquiry, a spokeswoman for the court said Thursday. The first phase of the inquiry is to ask the FIDH and the LDH to clarify their complaints, and it is too early to say what steps may be taken after that, she said.

Allegations that the NSA and others are spying on European citizens will also be the topic of a meeting of the European Commission's Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee next Thursday. The committee is due to meet journalists who uncovered the matter.

Peter Sayer covers open source software, European intellectual property legislation and general technology breaking news for IDG News Service. Send comments and news tips to Peter at peter_sayer@idg.com.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags privacycybercrimelegalCriminalU.S. National Security AgencyFrench Human Rights LeagueInternational Federation for Human Rights

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.
Peter Sayer

Peter Sayer

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Bang and Olufsen Beosound Stage - Dolby Atmos Soundbar

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

ASUS ROG, ACRONYM partner for Special Edition Zephyrus G14

Learn more >

Sony WF-1000XM3 Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Nakamichi Delta 100 3-Way Hi Fi Speaker System

Learn more >

Family Friendly

Philips Sonicare Diamond Clean 9000 Toothbrush

Learn more >

Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit for Nintendo Switch

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Teac 7 inch Swivel Screen Portable DVD Player

Learn more >

SunnyBunny Snowflakes 20 LED Solar Powered Fairy String

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?