Apple and Other Tech Companies Call for Government Surveillance Reform
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
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.
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