ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: La France, un nid d’espions alliés
by Lina Sankari
Translated Sunday 21 December 2014, by
On Dec. 18, the parliamentary delegation on intelligence handed the French president a report on the vulnerability of French companies as regards espionage
Mata Hari seems to have emulators. On Dec. 18, the parliamentary delegation on intelligence handed the French president a report on the protection of trade secrets, and the balance is enlightening. Unlike most of its economic partners, France has no legislative arsenal to protect its companies against spying. At present, French companies are subject to perfectly legal, wide-scale and exponentially growing attacks. Stolen computers, hacked computer systems, capitalistic raids during financial operations, and improper transfers of technology… In this domain, our U.S. “friends” are not to be outdone.
Thanks to the legal procedure of “dealing for justice,” American law firms are authorized to investigate foreign companies for corruption or financial manipulation in order to protect companies from the bad publicity which might lead to a long court case or the impossibility of entering the American market. This negotiated justice is an exceptional gateway for all kinds of spies who use the opportunity to get hold of confidential documents.
“One may see in this a kind of homage to French inventiveness, but above all one perceives that France has no friends or allies, only interests, and we are very poorly defended,” said Jean-Jacques Urvoas, the president of the parliamentary delegation, on December 18 on radio France Inter.
Thus 30% of the spying in the area of fundamental research is apparently done by allied countries, the report notes. Renault, Bolloré, Valeo, Michelin, aeronautics, the pharmaceutical industry… the number of industrial espionage affairs targeting French companies is legion. In 2013, two German citizens were caught red-handed intervening for a BMW subcontractor in the recharging stations of the Paris Autolib system of self-service electric cars
French spy agencies invited to invest in economic intelligence
Since whistle-blower Edward Snowden’s revelations, it has been public knowledge that the American National Security Agency (NSA) has no compunction about using part of the information that it has collected to improve the international competitiveness or American companies or to boost their profits. To put things bluntly, the electronic interception system that had targeted the Soviet bloc now observes the whole world and, among other things, is giving a serious boost to American industry, which is worried at its loss of leadership in aerospace.
The report recommends amendments to the Macron law on economic activity and growth. The business law code could also be given a chapter on trade secrets.
Spies do not have any problem penetrating the French ministry of finance and industry, either. The parliamentary delegation’s report spells out the fact that there is “strictly no culture of security at the financial ministries. The most basic security rules are considered to be superfluous and cumbersome, to be an expensive waste of time.”
Jean-Jacques Urvoas believes that the French spy agencies should also be inspired to invest in the area of economic intelligence. “Today, intelligence is a weapon in the battle. Our intelligence services have to be able to play a support role for a certain number of companies,” Urvoas explained.
Following the Snowden affair, Robert Gates, former secretary of Defense of both George W. Bush and Barack Obama, asserted that the worst spies in the world, after the Chinese, are the French, who since the times of Louis the Fourteenth habitually sneaked into American leaders’ hotel rooms to obtain information. The French parliamentary delegation apparently sees things differently.
A Chinese NSA?
In early December, the French newsmagazine l’Obs revealed the existence of a Chinese intelligence wiretapping center in the Paris suburbs. “This is a complete fabrication! These facilities only ensure the embassy’s communications system. It makes safe connections possible. This has been done in total conformity with French law,” the Chinese embassy in Paris asserted angrily.