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Tech Giants Launch Site for Government Surveillance Reform

By - Source: Tom's Guide US | B 10 comments

Eight of the biggest players in the tech and Web business have banded together to create a site asking the U.S. and other governments to modify how they performs surveillance and collects data. Interestingly enough, the eight companies include several pairs of rivals: AOL, Apple, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Twitter and Yahoo. 

The site, ReformGovernmentSurveillance.com, stats at the top, "The undersigned companies believe that it is time for the world’s governments to address the practices and laws regulating government surveillance of individuals and access to their information."

MORE: Should You Trust US Companies with Your Data?

The site features a list of five principles that the companies ask to be adopted for global government surveillance reform: 

  1. Limiting governments’ authority to collect users’ information
  2. Oversight and accountability
  3. Transparency about government demands,
  4. Respecting the free flow of information
  5. Avoiding conflicts among governments.

After a few quotes from CEOs and execs of said companies about privacy and surveillance, there is an open letter to Washington signed by the eight tech companies. It reads in part:

"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."

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Add your comment Display 10 Comments.
  • 1 Hide
    bee144 , December 9, 2013 7:43 AM
    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
  • 0 Hide
    bee144 , December 9, 2013 7:43 AM
    I hope this gets nationwide attention. It really is time to drawl the line.
  • 2 Hide
    curiosul , December 9, 2013 7:49 AM
    Do a poll, ask what people prefer:

    1:freedom

    2:the feeling of safety (even people trying to convince us to give up freedom for safety accept there can't be 100% safety)

    Read the results
    Insert that professor Hubert J. Farnsworth meme here
  • 0 Hide
    razorblaze42 , December 9, 2013 8:05 AM
    So the pot is calling the kettle black? it okay for AOL, Apple, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Twitter, Yahoo to collect, store, and sell your data...but if the NSA ask for it to track terrorist there's a problem?

    Here's a hint... if these companies stop collecting this data in the first place...there wouldn't be anything for the NSA to demand access too...duh
  • 0 Hide
    draxssab , December 9, 2013 8:12 AM
    Arn't all of these companies the ones that where affiliated with the Prism program?!
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PRISM_%28surveillance_program%29

    Yes they are
    Double faced bastards, I call bullshit on this
  • 0 Hide
    irish_adam , December 9, 2013 8:18 AM
    @razorblaze42 The NSA collects data it intercepts in transit which means that even if these companies dont store your data, its still not safe from them.

    Also how do you think these companies make money? i mean do you think that free email service/web browser/video sharing service/cloud storage etc. is some kind of public service funded by the tax payer? If you want anonymity then you pay for it, if you want it free then STFU
  • 0 Hide
    das_stig , December 9, 2013 9:15 AM
    Before the tech giants tell governments how to behave, they need to get their own house in order first and Google should be no.1 and Facebook a close 2nd.
  • 0 Hide
    acerace , December 9, 2013 9:40 AM
    @razorblaze42 "terrorist". Yeah, keep telling yourself that.
  • 0 Hide
    Mike Friesen , December 9, 2013 4:08 PM
    I like how Americans talk about their Constitution with a capital C. (sarcasm)
    So here are my rants against the American ideology.
    It's a freaking piece of paper! Yes it was awesome that they drafted up a bunch of rules to hold people's rights, and tradition has followed, etc, but (here's the important part) the constitution does not make things right, it is not the '10 commandments' of the American people. Many Americans (not all, yes I see you there) think that the constitution is infallible. Let me tell you it is not. Why do they change every once in a while? If it was written that it is okay to steal, would that be right then? No; the constitution is fallible.
  • 0 Hide
    WyomingKnott , December 11, 2013 5:35 AM
    Quote:
    I like how Americans talk about their Constitution with a capital C. (sarcasm)
    So here are my rants against the American ideology.
    It's a freaking piece of paper! Yes it was awesome that they drafted up a bunch of rules to hold people's rights, and tradition has followed, etc, but (here's the important part) the constitution does not make things right, it is not the '10 commandments' of the American people. Many Americans (not all, yes I see you there) think that the constitution is infallible. Let me tell you it is not. Why do they change every once in a while? If it was written that it is okay to steal, would that be right then? No; the constitution is fallible.


    We know that it is fallible; no need to be obnoxious. However, it is a great foundation for a way of life that values individual liberty and worth, and a lot of good (and bad) can be accomplished using it. Nothing is perfect, but if you've got something really good why not appreciate it?
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