US Allies: Spying "Totally Unacceptable," Violates International Law

Posted: Oct 21, 2013 12:04 PM

Publications around the world released Snowden-leaked details of the extent of US spying on global partners, causing France to recall its ambassador today.

The major piece causing a stir in France was produced by Le Monde,which builds off of earlier work by the German Der Spiegel and the British The Guardian to describe telecommunication data-collecting operations the NSA conducted on French citizens. The original article is translated to English here.

According to the article, 70.3 million recordings were made of private French phone conversations in just one month. It is unclear whether the "recordings" were actual audio segments or whether they were metadata collections of the call (i.e., contained information on the numbers involved, the duration, etc). Overall, the NSA averaged 3 million elements collected per day. Key words can also be used to target and store SMS text messages sent between French phones.

France lashed out against the US for violating its privacy and sovereignty:

"These kinds of practices between partners, that violate privacy, are totally unacceptable," French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told reporters at an EU foreign ministers meeting in Luxembourg on Monday. "We must quickly assure that these practices aren't repeated."

France's outrage comes right at the heels of Mexico's condemnation, as a leak over the weekend revealed that the NSA had spied on its president:

"This practice is unacceptable, illegitimate and contrary to Mexican law and international law," Mexico's Foreign Relations Department said in a statement.

It said it would send a diplomatic note to the United States. "In a relationship of neighbors and partners, there is no room for the kind of activities that allegedly took place," it said.

Washington has yet to respond to the most recent wave of backlash, and Secretary Kerry will likely meet Fabius in Paris Tuesday.

The Obama administration will certainly have to offer more to America's allies than "everybody is doing it" in order to recover from the latest diplomatic fallout.

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