France investigates role of internet companies in PRISM

France has launched a probe into whether internet companies violated domestic privacy laws by participating in PRISM.

Read this

Prism heats up simmering tensions between US and Europe over privacy

European politicians ask for details of surveillance programme and assurances about privacy.

Read More

The Paris prosecutor's office has opened a preliminary investigation into the roles that internet companies played in the US surveillance program PRISM .

The investigation, which opened in mid-July, according to reports, followed complaints filed with the prosecutor's office earlier that month filed by the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the French Human Rights League (LDH).

Based on documents released by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, the two groups named Apple, AOL, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Paltalk, and Yahoo as potential accomplices of the NSA and FBI in the program.

According to Le Figaro, police began examining claims of fraudulent access to automated data processing systems, illegal collection of personal data, invasion of privacy, and violation of private correspondence on 16 July. The FIDH estimates that between December 202 and January 2013, two million communications (phone calls, SMS or emails) were intercepted in France by those involved in PRISM, the paper says.

The Paris prosecutor's investigation is a preliminary one, and the first step to determining whether a formal investigation should be launched, according to Reuters.

Separately, the French data protection authority CNIL (Commission nationale de l'informatique et des libertés) has has set up a working group on access to French citizens' personal data by foreign public authorities. Meanwhile Europe's Article 29 Working Party is investigating the potential impact of PRISM on European citizens.