Apple teams with tech companies, civil liberties groups to demand dramatically increased transparency around U.S. government surveillance

“Apple, Google, Facebook, Microsoft are part of a broad alliance of technology companies and civil liberties groups that will tomorrow demand dramatically increased transparency around U.S. government surveillance efforts,” John Paczkowski reports for AllThingsD.

“In a letter to be published Thursday, the alliance — whose members include 63 companies, investors, non-profits and trade organizations — will call upon President Obama and congressional leaders to allow Internet, telephone, and Web-based service providers to report national security-related requests for information with greater specificity,” Paczkowski reports. “Specifically, they ask that they are allowed to regularly report: The number of government requests for information about their users; The number of individuals, accounts, or devices for which information was requested; The number of requests that sought communications content, basic subscriber information, and/or other information.”

Paczkowski reports, “The letter is perhaps the loudest call yet for greater government disclosure of digital communications monitoring following revelations of a sweeping surveillance program led by the U.S. National Security Agency. Certainly, it’s the most cohesive. It’s signatories are a phalanx of tech companies and civil liberties groups.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: PRISMWell now, this should be no problem for “the most open and transparent administration in history,” should it?

 
Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. – Benjamin Franklin, Historical Review of Pennsylvania, 1759

Join The Electronic Frontier Foundation in calling for a full congressional investigation here.

Related articles:
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How Microsoft handed U.S. NSA, FBI, CIA access to users’ encrypted video, audio, and text communications – July 11, 2013
DuckDuckGo search engine surges 33% in wake of PRISM scandal – June 20, 2013
Yahoo: Since December 2012, we have received up to 13,000 U.S. gov’t requests for customer data – June 18, 2013
Apple: Since December 2012, we have received U.S. gov’t requests for customer data for up to 10,000 accounts – June 17, 2013
Nine companies, including Apple, tied to PRISM, Obama to be smacked with class-action lawsuit – June 12, 2013
U.S. lawmakers urge review of ‘Prism’ domestic spying, Patriot Act – June 10, 2013
PRISM: Do Apple, Google, Facebook have an ethical obligation not to spy on users? – June 8, 2013
Plausible deniability: The strange and unbelievable similarities in the Apple, Google, and Facebook PRISM denials – June 7, 2013
Google’s Larry Page on government eavesdropping: ‘We had not heard of a program called PRISM until yesterday’ – June 7, 2013
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Report: Intelligence program gives U.S. government direct access to customer data on Apple servers; Apple denies – June 6, 2013

30 Comments

  1. While I agree with this stance, I still resent companies pushing politics when they should remain neutral! What did Apple give us? The iPhone and gay marriage! What a legacy!

    1. How can they remain neutral? The issue of privacy is one that directly strikes at the core of these tech companies… Information, especially personal information that the “administration” is demanding they deliver no questions asked. Not to mention the fact that the “administration” seems to have its sights set on doing Apple harm these days. Probably cause Jobs said Obama was “not impressive” and Apple still refuses to play his gimme money or else game.

      1. I cannot trust Apple’s iWatch now that the NSA probably will have full control of the wonderful Dick Tracy functions. Apple cannot clear itself now, despite talk of encryption and other sweet promises. Only a complete change of people in all three branches and the return of the Bill of Rights could bring trust back.

        1. Wz, I like the way you think…

          Except it is a bit premature and paranoid to expect the NSA has infested Apple tech with unconstitutional surveillance tech. Apple hasn’t turned into Microsoft, not yet anyway. We know the feds have their panties in a bunch over Apple’s highly successful Messages encryption. Boohoo. 😥

    2. In general, companies should remain politically neutral, but when the government attempts to force companies to participate in surveilance, companies have a moral responsibility to protect their customers.

      1. The Supreme Court does not agree with you. Companies are persons under the law, and as such, they have the protections of the Constitution, including free speech. With that right, they can take shareholders money and use it any way they want to influence public opinion (this is what the Citizens United case was all about). And you, as a shareholder and owner of the company, have no way to stop management from doing what ever they damned well please. Your option is to sell the stock if you don’t want to be part of the BS. Of course, with anonymous donations, you’ll have a hell of a time finding out what stock to dump. Welcome to reality.

    3. Thanks for demonstrating clearly, and unambiguously, that not only are you ignorant, but you’re homophobic with it. In future, iMaki, we’ll all know how to treat any comments that you make.

    4. Oh dear, Armando, and you were doing SO well! You actually had me believing that you were a rational, reasonable human being, then you dropped both boots, and revealed that you are just another tinfoil-hat wearing, swivel-eyed loon, who has nothing whatsoever to contribute to any discussion on here, where politics or government are introduced.
      Anyone who uses the words ‘Illuminati’, and ‘Vatican City’ instantly removes himself from rational society. Next you’ll be blaming ‘chemtrails’ and HAARP’.
      Don’t let the door hit your ass on the way out.

      1. I don’t want to completely dismiss anonymous ‘Armando’.

        But tossing in the ‘illuminati’? There’s some major urban myth misdirection there. (Kewl! New word: MythDirection. I get credit! Sounds like a very FUD-ly term, in more ways than one). IOW: Total FAIL ‘Armando’.

        As we say in General Semantics: Get to the source.

        Going all abstract with loon level accusations kills off logic. I’m not interested in watching ‘X-Files’ right now, thank you.

      1. Yes they do, at least to anyone who is objective and not gulping down either the Democrat OR Republican Kool-Aid by the gallon (you, therefore, are excluded from that group).

        Same thing applied for the elections. Anytime someone said “NObama” or “McLame” (2008), I instantly knew not to bother talking with them about anything political, as they were likely so biased that it would be a complete waste of my time. Same with “Messiah,” as the Fox News-addicts like to sarcastically call Obama now….no need to waste time on them as you’ll rarely if ever get a real discussion.

        I’ll continue listening, of course, as they rant, and I smile inside as they prove me right EVERY SINGLE TIME….completely biased with no original thought of their own.

          1. What fools ever called Obama a ‘Messiah’?! I’ll happily join in chastising their idiocy.

            But I personally NEVER heard anyone say that stupidity apart from possibly one news report about some loon level liberal who was likely off their meds. IOW: Attempting to carpet bomb everyone who voted for Obama as having a messiah complex is equally idiotic. So maybe you can take your meds now botvinnik and calm down. Reality is never just black and white, except in our meagre brains.

        1. I think I feel similarly to you, Craig, though I think of it in the other direction:
          People who use those terms are childish, but I’d be most concerned about and disgusted with someone who defended EITHER, while attacking the other. If the person uses those terms against both of the major political parties to evoke disdain for both, they may be childish, but at least they aren’t ignorant.

          It’s the people who side with one of the two corporate crony parties that disturb me the most.

  2. Here’s a quote from the bio of the Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence: ” In the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Rogers’ experience and understanding concerning wiretaps and the legal authorities governing the use of such tools were instrumental in updating the law to ensure that law enforcement and the intelligence community had the tools necessary for tracking terrorists using today’s technology, such as smart phones, social media and the Internet. ”

    He appears to be proud of the overreaching that’s been going on. Somehow, I don’t think any amount of Congressional investigating is going to wind up in a good place.

    Although, if the companies are successful, perhaps they could include some provisions for librarians to let the public know what they’ve been required to report also. Hope springs eternal.

  3. You were right about what? I missed the argument, sorry.

    Anyway, even if Obama will approve acts that this letter asks for, it will not stop wall-to-wall spying at all. You need just few secret court order among many publicly known to have blanket surveying on people.

    Wall-to-wall spying is both illegal (it does not conform to conditions that section 215 of Patriot Act sets — you have to have specific cause/investigation to get all of this data) and unconstitutional.

    Companies and their letters can not stop that, and, by they way, they did not even ask for it. So this letter has more to do with PR damage control, than actual fight for constitutional right for privacy. In this letter companies do not ask blanket spying to stop at all.

  4. Ahh. This is excellent. Thank you Apple et al.!

    And of course the Obama administration will do their best to IGNORE this POSITIVE (for a change) corporate move, specifically because they’ve been busy WRECKING THE US CONSTITUTION which is an imprisonable offense.

    To review, the 4th Amendment to the US Constitution:
    The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

    OOPS Obama administration: NO PROBABLE CAUSE in sight. Blanket surveillance of US citizens on US soil is CRIMINAL.

    And as my hero Benjamin Franklin stated:
    They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.

    Thank you forefather of my nation.

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