Apple, Google and others demand NSA spying reform

NSA Reform

Eight tech giants have joined forces demanding NSA reform in a “Global Government Surveillance Reform” campaign, including AOL, Apple, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Twitter and Yahoo, The Hill reports. The companies have expressed their requests in an open letter to Obama and members of Congress, and listed five governing principles that should be used for surveillance reform on the campaign’s website.

The companies ask the government to limit the scope of data collection and surveillance to “specific, known users for lawful purposes,” instead of grabbing data in bulk from Internet communications. The tech giants also demand oversight, accountability and transparency when it comes to governmental spying activities. Furthermore, the companies ask for a free flow of information between countries, as governments “should not inhibit access by companies or individuals to lawfully available information that is stored outside of the country.” Finally, the campaign says that there “should be a robust, principled, and transparent framework to govern lawful requests for data across jurisdictions,” in order to avoid spying-related conflicts among governments.

Some of these tech companies have voiced their concerns against the NSA’s surveillance activities in the recent past, while also initiating actions that would improve the security of their online services. More recently, Yahoo and Microsoft have confirmed plans to encrypt data, following Google.

The full letter to the Obama administration, which is also listed on the website and will run in print ads on Monday, follows below:

Dear Mr. President and Members of Congress,

We understand that governments have a duty to protect their citizens. But this summer’s revelations highlighted the urgent need to reform government surveillance practices worldwide. The balance in many countries has tipped too far in favor of the state and away from the rights of the individual — rights that are enshrined in our Constitution. This undermines the freedoms we all cherish. It’s time for a change.

For our part, we are focused on keeping user’s data secure — deploying the latest encryption technology to prevent unauthorized surveillance on our networks and by pushing back on government requests to ensure that they are legal and reasonable in scope.
We urge the US to take the lead and make reforms that ensure that government surveillance efforts are clearly restricted by law, proportionate to the risks, transparent and subject to independent oversight. To see the full set of principles we support, visit ReformGovernmentSurveillance.com

Sincerely,
AOL, Apple, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Twitter, Yahoo

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