* French prosecutor to decide whether to investigate
* Complaint denounces spy methods revealed by Snowden
By Natalie Huet
PARIS, July 11 Two French human rights groups
filed a legal complaint on Thursday targeting the U.S. National
Security Agency, the FBI and seven technology companies they say
may have helped the United States snoop on French citizens'
emails and phone calls.
The complaint, which denounces U.S. spying methods revealed
by former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden, is filed
against "persons unknown" but names Microsoft, Yahoo
, Google, Paltalk, Facebook, AOL
and Apple as "potential accomplices" of the NSA and
Media reports that the United States has eavesdropped on
European Internet users and embassies under a surveillance
programme named Prism have soured EU-U.S. relations, just as
talks are starting on a transatlantic free trade pact.
"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 International
Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the French Human Rights
League (LDH) said in a statement.
The complaint was filed with a Paris civil court, and a
prosecutor will now decide whether to open an investigation. If
the prosecutor declines to do so, the plaintiffs can still ask
an investigating magistrate to look into the case.
The complaint cites "fraudulent access to an automated data
processing system, collection of personal data by fraudulent
means, wilful violation of the intimacy of private life and the
use and conservation of recordings and documents obtained
through such means".
While the complaint alleges that the NSA and FBI bear the
bulk of responsibility in setting up Prism, it suggests the U.S.
companies may have provided them with the technical means to
access their servers and collect personal data and content.
The rights groups said French laws had been violated and
called for a judicial investigation into the reports on U.S.
surveillance that appeared in Britain's Guardian newspaper, the
Washington Post and German news magazine Der Spiegel.
The NSA and the Justice Department declined to comment on
the complaint. The FBI and Yahoo did not respond to requests for
Representatives for Google, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, AOL
and Paltalk declined to comment specifically, but referred to
previous statements saying they did not give any government
agency direct access to their servers and only provided user
information in accordance with the law.