The French foreign ministry has summoned U.S. Ambassador Charles Rivkin after the French newspaper Le Monde published a report based on data leaked by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. The report claims that the NSA spied on over 70 million phone records between Dec. 10, 2012 and Jan. 8, 2013. According to the BBC, the intercepts were triggered by certain keywords. It remains unclear if the operation (US-985D) is ongoing.
Obama administration's response has been to say something to the effect of, "we're only doing what everyone else is doing." According to National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden:
As a matter of policy we have made clear that the United States gathers foreign intelligence of the type gathered by all nations.
As the BBC reports that the French government is reportedly storing personal data at the DGSE intelligence service headquarters.
The news come shortly after the German newspaper Der Spiegel reported that documents leaked by Snowden reveal that the U.S. hacked into the public email account of Mexican President Felipe Calderón and other Mexican officials. Leaked documents reveal that the NSA thought of their efforts to snoop on Mexican officials were a success. From The Hill:
A document described the NSA probe into Mexican government agencies as a "tremendous success." It noted that the operations "are just the beginning — we intend to go much further against this important target."
The news of the NSA's spying on Mexican authorities and the French is only the latest example of their international spying. Officials from Germany and Brazil have both previously expressed outrage over the NSA's activities.
It is unlikely that French or Mexican officials will be able to do anything to ensure that the NSA's snooping on foreigners significantly changes. However, the French could do some economic damage by using the latest revelations as leverage in the trade negotiations between the U.S. and the E.U.
Last summer, when it was revealed that the NSA spied on foreign embassies in New York and Washington D.C., France delayed negotiations on the trade deal by two weeks. Without some sign that the NSA will be reforming its policies on overseas snooping there is a chance that negotiations could be further delayed or include more concessions for those who have been spied on.