Google, Microsoft, Apple, Facebook and other tech giants urge government surveillance reform

By Daniel S Levine,

Eight of the largest tech companies in the country gave a rare sign of unity in a letter to the U.S. government, seeking tighter control on government surveillance. The letter, published in major newspapers across the country, comes after documents about the National Security Agency’s activities continue to leak to the press.

The letter was signed by companies that are often fierce competitors in business, including Microsoft, Apple, Facebook and Twitter, but they all voiced concern over the fact that the NSA has been collecting more data than expected and without court approval. LinkedIn, Yahoo, AOL and Google also signed the letter.

According to the Washington Post, the group asks that the NSA stop collecting bulk data and come up with more rigid requests when seeking user data.

“We understand that governments have a duty to protect their citizens,” the letter reads. “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.”

The Los Angeles Times notes that the letter also included several comments from leaders like Facebook CEO MArk Zuckerberg and Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer.

“Reports about government surveillance have shown there is a real need for greater disclosure and new limits on how governments collect information,” Zuckerberg said. “The U.S. government should take this opportunity to lead this reform effort and make things right.”

ACLU analyst Chris Soghoian suggested that the real motive behind the letter was profit, noting, “It sure would have been nice if the tech companies had been loudly supporting intelligence reform before Snowden's disclosures.” WikiLeaks also said that the companies only spoke “after seeing profit problems over their complicity in it.”

The latest revelation from the Edward Snowden-leaked documents came last week when the Post published documents that stated the NSA gathered 5 billion cell phone location records daily.

image: Wikimedia Commons


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