Orange is a major player in the French surveillance system. This has just been revealed by an internal document of the British secret service (GCHQ). Indeed, in this note, it is said that the French secret service (DGSE) has worked closely with “a French telecommunications operator.” But the description of the telecom company specific skills, the history of this relationship, brings everyone to former France Telecom now Orange.
The DGSE and of the main French telecom operators cooperate to improve national interception of communications networks and collaborate to override the encryption of data flowing through the network.
This note was among the NSA archives which have been released by NSA’s former consultant Edward Snowden. The relationship between the DGSE and the French operator is a key advantage over other Western secret services. One of the DGSE strengths mostly comes from the permissions granted to access France Telecom- Orange customer data. Without any control, the operator gives full and free access to its networks and hosted data stream.
Millions of French people but also foreigners have been targeted by this unlimited collection of data, which serves not only the DGSE, but also French intelligence agencies. These data are also shared with foreign partners as GCHQ. The French operator also develops research on cryptology in partnership with the DGSE.
Neither the DGSE, nor the government, which now owns 27% shares in France Telecom commented on these revelations. The expertise of this company, which was first an administration, was and still is essential to the national security and independent decision making of the French leaders.
“The relationship between France Telecom and the DGSE is not the same as the one in the Prism NSA program, which meant a contractual relationships with Internet giants, says a former chief of French intelligence service. In France, it is consubstantial. “There is no formal cooperation between the DGSE and France Telecom- Orange. This partnership is embodied by people who have access to Top secret information and can be sometimes working for the operator or for the DGSE. This is not new and has been the case for at least thirty years.
“Mass transit data are stored for internal and unofficial usage, says a manager in charge of networks within the operator. But the key point is the access to the FAI … [to cross] the flow of data and the identity of those who exchange them. It is for this reason that the DGSE is in contact with all the French operators. ”
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