Saturday, July 6, 2013

Observations from the Shore 7.6

I've been trying to stay away from politics as much as possible this week but I have to mention this. You know I love Paris and I love the French language but there are times I'm not so sure how I feel about France or the French in general. That being said there are times you just have to admire the arrogance of the French.

Every year on the 4th of July the American ambassador to France holds a garden party. This year's guest of honor was French Interior Minister Manuel Valls who proceeded to lecture the attendees on the NSA spying operations. The minister said that "in the name of our friendship, we owe each other honesty. We must say things clearly, directly, frankly." He also said "such practices, if proven, do not have their place between allies and partners." The comments probably didn't go over well but I can't say they are totally out of line given what's been revealed. But this post is about French arrogance so I'll move on.

On the very same day Valls was scolding the ambassador's garden party Le Monde was published with this headline, "Révélations sur le Big Brother français." Yes it seems the NSA isn't the only organization spying on its citizens and allies. According to the paper's investigation the DGSE, France's equivalent of the CIA and NSA combined, spied on French citizens both inside and outside the country. It collected phone calls, emails and internet activity. It even spied on their Twitter and Facebook accounts. But the DGSE didn't just collect metadata for future use it used the data to "map" who was talking to who.

Meanwhile French President François Hollande has suspended talks on the EU-US free trade pact until he receives a full explanation of American surveillance operations. Hollande has repeatedly said that he "cannot accept this kind of behavior between partners and allies."

Maybe this is just typical French arrogance but it also raises a question. If it's not just arrogance is the French government extremely hypocritical or just incredibly naive?

A spokesman for the DGSE in Paris refused to comment on Le Monde's report.

7/7 update - This is on a related topic so I thought I would just add it to this post. The MIT Media Lab has finally released Immersion, a program that had been in development for a few years. When you grant Immersion access to your e-mail account (currently only Gmail) it creates a map of your personal network. Each collaborator, a person with whom you have exchanged at least three e-mails, is given a circle, which is connected to all the other circles in your big web of relationships. If you are interested follow the link for more information. Unlike the government databases all the info Immersion collects CAN be permanently deleted when you are finished.

No comments:

Post a Comment