PARIS - Blackberry handhelds have been called addictive, invasive, wonderful - and now, a threat to French state secrets.
French government security experts have reportedly banned - with mixed success - the use of BlackBerries in ministries and in the presidential palace, for fear that they are vulnerable to snooping by U.S. intelligence.
"The risks of interception are real. It is economic war," daily Le Monde quoted Alain Juillet, in charge of economic intelligence for the government, as saying. With BlackBerries, there is "a problem with the protection of information," he said.
Juillet's office confirmed that he spoke to Le Monde but said he would not talk to other reporters. Officials at the presidential Elysee Palace and the prime minister's office were not immediately available for comment.
Le Monde said information sent from BlackBerries goes through servers in the United States and Britain, and that France fears that the U.S. National Security Agency can snoop.
France's General Secretariat for National Defense issued a circular on BlackBerries 18 months ago and later renewed it, the newspaper said.