A Paris court is now formally investigating the PRISM data mining program run by the U.S. National Security Agency. That’s according to the French media outlet BFMTV (via France-based English language website The Local).
Of course PRISM is the program whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed, and he has since sought asylum from U.S. authorities in Russia.
Investigation launched into PRISM
The announcement was made on Wednesday by the Paris court. It will look into potential “fraudulent access and maintenance of and automated data processing system, “illicit collection of data of a personal nature,” an “attack on privacy” and “violations of the secrecy of correspondences.”
The investigation is apparently the result of complaints filed by two human rights organizations within the last several months. The organizations want to find out if major U.S. tech companies like Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL), Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) and Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ:YHOO) cooperated with U.S. officials in the collection of intelligence.
U.S. companies under fire from French organizations
The French League of Human Rights and the International Federation of Human Rights are the two organizations which filed the complaints. They released a statement blasting the U.S. and the surveillance practices it followed “under the guise of the fight against terrorism and organised crime.” According to the report, U.S. intelligence agencies and nine U.S. companies could be investigated by the French court. Both the NSA and the FBI are expected to be investigated by the court.
The advocacy groups also want the court to shed light on what roles Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) and Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) played in the PRISM data mining program. Other companies the groups targeted in their complaint include Apple Inc (NASDAQ:AAPL), Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB), YouTube, Skype, Paltalk, Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ:YHOO) and AOL, Inc. (NYSE:AOL).
U.S. companies pushing for transparency
Earlier this month, Microsoft, Google, Apple, Facebook and other U.S. companies attempted to push for more transparency in connection with the NSA’s spying programs. Thus far U.S. agencies have been forcing them to keep quiet about how much information they are required to provide to government and law enforcement officials.