US National Security Agency
America's National Security Agency (NSA) is a cryptologic intelligence agency of the United States Department of Defence responsible for the collection and analysis of foreign communications and foreign signals intelligence. The NSA is a key component of the US Intelligence community, which is headed by the Director of National Intelligence. By law, the NSA's intelligence gathering is limited to foreign communications although there have been some incidents involving domestic collection, including the NSA warrantless surveillance controversy.
France investigates US spying on ‘personal data’
French prosecutors are investigating alleged US spying under the PRISM surveillance programme following complaints by two human rights groups, sources close to the case said yesterday.
They launched an investigation on July 16 into fraudulent access to personal data and personal correspondence following complaints by the International Federation of Human Rights and the League of Human Rights, the sources said.
The complaint also targets the role played by Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Paltak, Facebook, YouTube, Skype, AOL and Apple in the alleged espionage.
PRISM is said to give the US National Security Agency and FBI easy access to the systems of nine of the world's top internet companies including Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Apple, Yahoo and Skype.
A lawyer for the two groups, Emmanuel Daoud, said they wanted to determine whether these firms had made their servers available to the FBI and NSA.
If the companies had done so, they could face criminal charges in France for violating data protection and privacy rules, he said.
There has been deep concern in Europe about the alleged abuses of privacy.
US President Barack Obama on Tuesday met a five-member panel he appointed to review the privacy issues involved with the surveillance programmes, the White House said.
The review panel is part of an effort to expand oversight of the programmes, which Obama has defended as necessary to protect national security.
Its members are Richard Clarke, a former counter-terrorism adviser; Michael Morell, former deputy director of the CIA; Peter Swire, who worked on technology issues in the Obama and Clinton administrations; Geoffrey Stone, a constitutional law professor; and Cass Sunstein, Obama's former regulatory czar.
Additional reporting by Reuters