Apple and Other Tech Companies Call for Government Surveillance Reform

nsa_logo Apple, along with seven other U.S. technology companies such as Microsoft, Facebook, and Google, have published an open letter urging President Barack Obama and members of Congress to reform government surveillance tactics, reports The Wall Street Journal. The letter, which can be found on a website endorsed by the tech companies, will also appear in full-page ads in the Monday editions of several publications such as The New York Times and the Washington Post.

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

The various tech companies have also published a set of principles that they believe governments should follow, including the limitation of government authority to collect users' information, oversight and accountability, transparency about demands, respect for the free flow of information, and the avoidance of conflicts among governments.

Concerns about government use of user data collecting began ramping up in June, when a U.S. government program named PRISM was revealed to be giving the U.S. National Security Agency direct access to user data on corporate servers across a wide spectrum of Internet companies including Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube, and Apple.

In response, Apple published a statement of "Commitment to Customer Privacy" denying its participation in the NSA's program and teamed up with a number of tech companies to request greater NSA surveillance transparency, allowing it to provide customers with regular reports on security related requests. Last month, Apple also published a report outlining statistics on government and law enforcement requests it received from January to the end of June.

Apple and other companies also met with President Obama in August to discuss privacy issues and government surveillance. Recently, Apple and 30 other technology corporations signed a letter urging the U.S. Congress to pass the Surveillance Order Reporting Act of 2013 and the Surveillance Transparency Act of 2013, which would result in increased surveillance disclosures and would give technology companies the right to publish detailed statistics on demands for user data.

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the comment thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All MacRumors forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.

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Top Rated Comments

pk7 Avatar
138 months ago
The government right now.
Score: 29 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ThunderSkunk Avatar
138 months ago
I'm also a believer in that if you've done nothing wrong, you have nothing to hide.
Good point. Makes the NSA look pretty bad with the culture of secrecy and lying to congress about it, doesn't it?

I'm a believer in if you've done nothing wrong, you do not deserve to be treated (such as having your constitutional rights thrown in the trash) as though you have. A government that regards all its people as criminals isn't a government, it's a prison guard.

Freedom is inversely proportional to security, even by the very definition of the words.
Score: 24 Votes (Like | Disagree)
arctic Avatar
138 months ago
but I'm also a believer in that if you've done nothing wrong, you have nothing to hide.

True. But just because I know I'm keeping a neat and clean home doesn't mean I'll have an Open House for Public Health officials to come in as they please.
Score: 21 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Amadeus71 Avatar
138 months ago
It's just PR

Going by the statements of Zuckerberg and Meyer when the PRISM program was first revealed, it seems clear that the problem they have with government surveilance is less its existence but more the fact it's being talked about and makes their companies look bad - which translates into lost business.

Finding a way to make people think it's all gone now without actually changing anything will do just nicely in the eyes of those two CEOs, even when the reality ends up being very different.
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)
NightFox Avatar
138 months ago
I'm pretty sure Apple is leading this effort and the others are just tagging along for the ride.

Seriously? Based on what? Or is that just what you want to believe?

As others have said, if Apple (or others) are so vehemently opposed to this, why didn't the make a stand against it before it became public knowledge?
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)
pramirez95 Avatar
138 months ago
Why am I up this late?
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)