Tech Giants Unite to Curb Government Surveillance

National Journal
Laura Ryan
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Laura Ryan
Dec. 9, 2013, 2:17 a.m.

Ma­jor tech com­pan­ies are put­ting aside their dif­fer­ences to join forces to call for lim­its on the U.S. gov­ern­ment’s sur­veil­lance pro­gram, re­ports the The New York Times.

Eight com­pan­ies — led by Google and Mi­crosoft — es­cal­ated their op­pos­i­tion to the gov­ern­ment sur­veil­lance pro­gram with a form­al, 5-point plan to re­strict the NSA’s spy­ing prac­tices Monday in full-page ad­vert­ise­ments in sev­er­al U.S. news­pa­pers and a web­site, Re­formGov­ern­ment­Sur­veil­lance.com.

“We un­der­stand that gov­ern­ments have a duty to pro­tect their cit­izens,” their joint state­ment said. “But this sum­mer’s rev­el­a­tions high­lighted the ur­gent need to re­form gov­ern­ment sur­veil­lance prac­tices world­wide.”

The tech com­pan­ies’ united front is the latest — and most co­ordin­ated — ef­fort in their push to curb the data-sur­veil­lance pro­gram, and it comes after many com­pan­ies have vo­cally op­posed the NSA pro­gram and stepped up data en­cryp­tion to pro­tect users’ pri­vacy.

AOL, Apple, Face­book, Google, Linked­In, Mi­crosoft, Twit­ter, and Ya­hoo are all for­mid­able lob­by­ing forces in Wash­ing­ton, and it is in their eco­nom­ic and busi­ness in­terest to push for lim­its on the gov­ern­ment sur­veil­lance pro­gram. Their com­pli­city in the spy­ing pro­gram — re­vealed through doc­u­ments leaked by Ed­ward Snowden — have dam­aged users’ trust in these com­pan­ies’ abil­ity to pro­tect their data, the cur­rency ex­changed between In­ter­net com­pan­ies and users.

“People won’t use tech­no­logy they don’t trust,” Mi­crosoft Gen­er­al Coun­sel Brad Smith said in a state­ment. “Gov­ern­ments have put this trust at risk, and gov­ern­ments need to help re­store it.”

The Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion will present a re­view of NSA pro­ced­ures as soon as this week.

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