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French minister breaks ranks on spy system

French minister breaks ranks on spy system
France's Defence Minister Herve Morin, left, and Jean Louis Borloo, economic strategy and employment minister, arrive at the Elysee Palace to attend the first weekly cabinet meeting of the newly named government in Paris on May 18, 2007. (UPI Photo/William Alix) | License Photo

PARIS, Sept. 8 (UPI) -- French Defense Minister Herve Morin says he questions the purpose of President Nicolas Sarkozy's new internal intelligence computer system dubbed "Edvige."

Morin, a former centrist member of Parliament until he joined Sarkozy's Cabinet, broke ranks with the president over the size and scope of Edvige. It has been set up as a security measure to collect personal data on French citizens, ranging from their circles of friends to their sexual preferences, The Times of London reported Monday.

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"Surely this is a strange mixing up of categories," Morin said. "Is it useful to gather data such as telephone numbers, sexual orientation and details of taxes and assets and so on without knowing exactly what is the point?"

French Interior Minister Michele Alliot-Marie, who is heading the Edvige effort, telling The Times: "It is odd that Mr. Morin has not managed to find my telephone number. I would have set his mind at rest."

French civil libertarians have raised alarms since the sizable scope of the data collection system was revealed in July after the National Commission on Information Technology and Freedom, the data privacy watchdog, forced the government to publish the secret decree creating it, The Times said.

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