The National Security Agency has been spying on the French government, and the French are upset.
A recent article in the French newspaper Le Monde detailed the NSA's recordeding of millions of French citizens. As a consequence, the American ambassador to France has been summoned to France. According to a Fox News article, the Le Monde report alleges that when certain numbers are dialed, the conversations were automatically recorded.
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius called the revelations "totally unacceptable."
All of the French newspaper's information was based on former NSA contractor Edward Snowden's revelations with former-Guardian columnist Glenn Greenwald. The U.S. Ambassador to France, Charles Rivkin, has been requested to come to France to clear up and explain the recent reports in the press.
Though the French were unsurprised at being watched by the American government, the actual scale of monitoring was unexpected, commented a French official. The 30 days it took to collect the data is a feat for any nation, let alone the U.S. The intrusiveness with which the U.S. has watched France, a country considered an ally, can only point to even more surveillance of countries with which we have tense relations.
The amount of data collected in Syria and other similar countries must be considerably more than our allies if the collection is aimed at protecting Americans. The "intrusion, on a vast scale, both into the private space of French citizens as well into the secrets of major national firms," is not being taken lightly by the country, Le Monde reported.
Fabius acceded to having fairly amicable ties with the American government, but comments that France does not appreciate such liberal data collection on their country.
It is highly unlikely that any serious damage will be done to French-American ties with the recent French newspaper revelations. It is almost a universal reality that developed powers spy on one another. Data collection on countries that we hold alliances with is an act of insurance, instead of one of mistrust. Even if relations are stellar, it is more rational to have hard evidence of what is occurring in a country rather than be surprised by any political moves.
Yet it is even more rational to allocate more effort and additional resources into staying up to date on at-risk countries. It is especially more advantageous to focus on nations on whom we have little knowledge (i.e. North Korea).
If anything, the recent findings are another blunder for America that it can add to its list of problems. While the Syrian conflict, Petraeus scandal and Benghazi attacks have fought for media attention this year, the power of knowledge over American and foreign people is clearly in demonstration. It is evident that the battle for the most intelligence information is at an all-time high. Or perhaps the public is just now becoming privy to America's high stakes in the metadata game.
Undoubtedly, knowledge is power. The countries that have a high accumulation on that product hold a lot of leverage and can reportedly keep its citizens safer.
Of course, with such power and knowledge comes the responsibility to utilize it properly.
The laws which govern the rules of spying on foreign nations are hardly followed. It is up to the individual country to track other nations' surveillance tactics in order to keep them from collecting whatever they deem to be too much.
If every nation had it their way, hardly any information would be extracted except in regard to suspected criminals. Since that is what the NSA and other agencies like it promise they do anyway, there should be no problem.
Rebecca Butcher is a senior in journalism & electronic media. She can be reached at email@example.com.