Tech giants urge spying reforms

Windsor Genova – Fourth Estate Cooperative Contributor

Washington, DC, United States (4E) – The country’s largest technology companies are calling for limits to electronic spying by the National Security Agency (NSA).

Microsoft, Google, Apple, Facebook, LinkedIn, Yahoo, AOL and Twitter made the call in an open letter published in major newspapers on Monday and through a joint website called Reform Government Surveillance. The Web site includes testimonials from Google CEO Larry Page, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, and Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer.

The said companies demanded an end to bulk collection of e-mail addresses and video chats; review of surveillance requests by an independent court; public disclosure of government demands for user information; an international framework to govern lawful data requests; and respect for free flow of information.

The companies said they understand the duty of the government to protect citizens but the current surveillance practice is undermining the constitutional rights of individuals.

Brad Smith, Microsoft’s general counsel, said the government should restore the trust on the technology they use.

They are also deploying the latest encryption technology to prevent unauthorized surveillance of their networks and pushing back on government requests to ensure that they are legal and reasonable in scope.

The call was triggered by the June revelation of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden that the agency is collecting information of millions of the companies’ online customers without permission and oversight. The collection was done by tapping into the fiber optic cables that carry data between the servers of said companies. The NSA explained it was gathering intelligence against legitimate foreign targets to prevent terror attacks in the U.S.


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