Tech Companies Call for Government Surveillance Reform

By: Brandon Miles Email
By: Brandon Miles Email

There have been growing concerns about government use of private user data. In June, a U.S. government program named PRISM was revealed to be giving the U.S. National Security Agency direct access to user data on corporate servers across a wide spectrum of Internet companies including Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube, and Apple.

Eight U.S. technology companies including Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, and Google have published an open letter urging President Barack Obama and members of Congress to reform government surveillance tactics.

The letter has appeared on various websites as well as in full-page ads in several publications such as The New York Times and the Washington Post.

The letter reads as follows:

"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"

The various tech companies are also advocating for limitation of government authority to collect users information, oversight, accountability, transparency, respect for the free flow of information, and the avoidance of conflicts among governments.

There have been growing concerns about government use of private user data. In June, a U.S. government program named PRISM was revealed to be giving the U.S. National Security Agency direct access to user data on corporate servers across a wide spectrum of Internet companies including Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube, and Apple.

Apple then published a statement of "Commitment to Customer Privacy," denying participation in the NSA's program. Similarly, Google has been publishing regular "Transparency Reports," detailing all government requests for information from their company since 2010.


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