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French secret services had 'full access to customer records at telecommunications giant' - claim

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French secret services had 'full access to customer records at telecommunications giant' - claim

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French secret services had full access to customer records at one of the country’s biggest telecommunication firms, a newspaper has claimed.

Le Monde, quoting an internal British secret services document leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden, says the company is the previously state-owned France Telecom, now Orange.

The French daily claims the firm’s history of state ownership means the country’s secret services have legislative approval to access customer data, its networks and the data flowing through them.

The newspaper says the data involved concerned both French customers and foreigners. It adds the French secret service, DGSE (Directorate General for External Security), also shared the data with other spy agencies.

Stephane Richard, boss of Orange, said: “The people empowered with authorisation may have to manage, at the heart of the company, the relationship between state services and their access to our networks, but they do not answer to me. All of this is done under the responsibility of the public authorities, with a legal framework.”

France Telecom was privatised in 2004. The firm, which employs around 100,000, has been known as Orange since 2013.

Orange France says it has 26.2 million mobile and 9m broadband customers.

DGSE declined to comment.