Apple, Google, others call for government surveillance reform

“Eight U.S. technology giants are making a joint appeal to reform government surveillance activities, following a stream of disclosures about actions by the National Security Agency,” Danny Yadron reports for The Wall Street Journal.

“Google, Facebook, Apple, Microsoft, Twitter, Yahoo, LinkedIn and AOL – bitter rivals in some cases – are issuing an open letter to President Obama and members of Congress along with a set of reform principles to better safeguard the information of Internet users,” Padilla reports. “A shorter version of the open letter is appearing in full-page ads in the Monday editions of several print publications, including The New York Times and several D.C.-focused newspapers, including the Washington Post, Politico, Roll Call and The Hill. ‘This summer’s revelations highlighted the urgent need to reform government surveillance practices worldwide,’ the ad reads in part. ‘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.'”

An open letter to Washington

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 users’ 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 companies didn’t say how much they’re spending on the effort or how it came about. But they are launching a website, reformgovernmentsurveillance.com, and distributing quotes from the executives of the companies involved – including Google CEO Larry Page, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer and Brad Smith, Microsoft’s general counsel,” Padilla reports. “‘People won’t use technology they don’t trust,’ Smith said. ‘Governments have put this trust at risk, and governments need to help restore it.'”

Read more in the full article here.

Also read more via The Guardian here.

MacDailyNews Take: Learn more by visiting reformgovernmentsurveillance.com.

United States Constitution, Amendment IV:

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.

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.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Readers “Fred Mertz” and “David G.” for the heads up.]

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30 Comments

    1. As long as king Obongo the foul mouth liar are running the show… Fat chance!

      You sheep in the US are looking at Marshal Law very soon to keep the ape king in power.

      See ya soon IN THE OBONGO GULAG SUCKERS!

    2. “Reform” required! With the Fourth Amendment being systematically avoided and ignored, something has to change or else it’s just words on a piece of paper.

  1. Funny thing is, if the Government had given everybody an iPhone 5s with a note saying “Carry this with you at all times so we can keep an eye on you” we’d have all put them under our cars and driven over them or tossed them in the nearest lake. Instead, they snuck into a private transaction and we paid for the hardware ourselves. Bad Government, very bad Government.

    I was hoping we would start seeing internet access as an infrastructure item that should be ubiquitous, like roads. But this would be like roads with a cop every 50 feet, keeping track of who was going where. Bad Government, very bad Government

  2. Along with exhorting the government to respect privacy, perhaps most of these companies need some introspection about their collection and treatment of personal data.

    1. I do agree. However the government can arrest you, and take away everything you own. They can’t.
      I would like to know what is the size difference between the NSA’s data farm and those companies.

      1. About time someone stated the plain and obvious truth.

        Blame shifting and revisiting ancient history does not help. Neocons, Bush and oligarchy labels does not help. 2013 REALITY is here and has to be dealt with.

        Good to read tech competitors finally banded together for the greater good of every private citizen. God speed, all … 🙂

    1. Terrorist is the wrong thing to ask. “Hero or Criminal?” is the question, and the answer is “Both”. I have a hard time deciding from minute to minute. I had to teach my son just this weekend that “The ends justify the means” is only good if the means are clean. In one case, he’s a hero. In the other, he’s a criminal.

  3. Facebook & Googles cash-flow is a result of being parasites on their users. I’m not sure what drugs they are on making this.
    Its come clear that the NSA have been abusing their power, snooping ex’s ect, but given the choice, I’d rather be tracked by a government in “search of terrorists threats” than tracked and profiled by an advertising corporation.

  4. Please pay attention to the companies who are not on the list… i.e. the telcos… cable and broadcast companies… long hall network providers… police, FBI, NSA and dept. of homeland security. The manipulators of truth, they need to be watched as well.

  5. It’s a good step but leads me to shake my head reading the trends of the quotes and ideas from the article.

    – “Governments have put this trust at risk, and governments need to help restore it.”

    – …it is time for the United States government to act to restore the confidence of citizens around the world.”

    – It’s time for reform and we urge the US government to lead the way.”

    You know I think possibly this approach would have been tried, say prior to 1775 but that time is long past. Relying on the government to restore trust is going to be as fruitful as relying on King George III to introduce representation along with taxation.

    The other options are much more potent in my opinion. The government has put this trust at risk, and it’s the people the need to help restore it. The only race that the US government is winning right now is the race to the bottom. The way they are currently going they might as well reintroduce slavery to go along with their torture.

    There might be an urgent need to reform the US government surveillance practices worldwide but it looks like they are no longer accountable to their citizens for whatever reason but sooner or later there will be a reckoning, and they will be held accountable.

    On a side note I’ve heard that G.W. Bush is leaving the country. I wonder is that international arrest warrant for him is still active. I certainly would be appropriate to detour him to the Hague to answer for crimes against humanity and have justice being served.

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