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French president rebukes Obama over NSA snooping

The White House promises to review the way it gathers intelligence amid reports of NSA spying on French citizens, according to the Guardian.

Declan McCullagh/CNET

The president of the United States was in the hot seat Monday following reports that the National Security Agency recorded phone calls and text messages of French citizens.

Based on documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, French newspaper Le Monde said that the NSA made more than 70 million recordings of phone activities by French citizens from December 2012 to January 2013, many of which allegedly targeted people without any obvious association with terrorism.

President Barack Obama called French President François Hollande Monday night to discuss the matter and was reportedly chastized over the revelations, according to The Independent. Hollande expressed "profound reprobation," France's Élysée Palace said.

In a rare political mea culpa, The White House has acknowledged that the reports do raise questions, especially in how the United States treats its friends and allies.

"The president and President Hollande discussed recent disclosures in the press -- some of which have distorted our activities, and some of which raise legitimate questions for our friends and allies about how these capabilities are employed," the White House said in a statement, the Guardian reported on Tuesday.

"The president made clear that the United States has begun to review the way that we gather intelligence, so that we properly balance the legitimate security concerns of our citizens and allies with the privacy concerns that all people share," the statement continued. "The two presidents agreed that we should continue to discuss these issues in diplomatic channels."

France's interior minister, Manuel Valls, called Le Monde's report "shocking" and said that "if an allied country spies on France or spies on other European countries, that's totally unacceptable."