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NSA accused of violating French privacy laws

Two French human rights groups filed a lawsuit [text, PDF;,in French] in Paris Thursday calling for an investigation into whether the US National Security Agency (NSA) [official website] PRISM program [DNI backgrounder] violated French privacy laws. The lawsuit, filed by the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the Human Rights League (LDH) [advocacy websites], is based on articles 323-1, 226-18, 226-1 and 226-2 of the French Criminal Code [text]. Crimes under article 226 are considered "offenses against privacy," and "violations of personal rights resulting from computer files or processes." In a press release FIDH condemned [press release] PRISM, stating, "this blatant intrusion into individuals' lives represents a serious threat to individual liberties and, if not stopped, may lead to the end of the rule of law." The complaint does not name the NSA or any other target, instead asking for the opening of an official inquiry into the alleged privacy violations.

Several other challenges to the NSA's surveillance programs have been filed recently. Earlier this week the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) [advocacy website] filed an emergency petition [JURIST report] with the US Supreme Court [official website] challenging the NSA telephone record surveillance program. EPIC is arguing [press release, PDF] that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) exceeded its authority when it "ordered production of millions of domestic telephone records that cannot plausibly be relevant to an authorized investigation." Last month the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), in conjunction with the New York Civil Liberties Union [advocacy websites] filed a federal lawsuit [JURIST report] challenging the NSA's phone data collection program. As a Verizon business network services customer, the ACLU argued [press release] that the program violates the rights of free speech and association as well as the right of privacy as protected by the First and Fourth Amendments.

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