Tech Giants Unite to Curb Government Surveillance

National Journal
Laura Ryan
See more stories about...
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, Re­formGov­ern­ment­Sur­veil­

“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.

What We're Following See More »
How Coal Country Went from Blue to Red
41 minutes ago
History Already Being Less Kind to Hastert’s Leadership
3 hours ago

In light of his recent confessions, the speakership of Dennis Hastert is being judged far more harshly. The New York Times' Carl Hulse notes that in hindsight, Hastert now "fares poorly" on a number of fronts, from his handling of the Mark Foley page scandal to "an explosion" of earmarks to the weakening of committee chairmen. "Even his namesake Hastert rule—the informal standard that no legislation should be brought to a vote without the support of a majority of the majority — has come to be seen as a structural barrier to compromise."

Trump Ill Prepared for General Election
3 hours ago

Even if "[t]he Republican presidential nomination may be in his sights ... Trump has so far ignored vital preparations needed for a quick and effective transition to the general election. The New York businessman has collected little information about tens of millions of voters he needs to turn out in the fall. He's sent few people to battleground states compared with likely Democratic rival Hillary Clinton, accumulated little if any research on her, and taken no steps to build a network capable of raising the roughly $1 billion needed to run a modern-day general election campaign."

Congress Can’t Seem Not to Pay Itself
6 hours ago

Rep. Dave Young can't even refuse his own paycheck. The Iowa Republican is trying to make a point that if Congress can't pass a budget (it's already missed the April 15 deadline) then it shouldn't be paid. But, he's been informed, the 27th Amendment prohibits him from refusing his own pay. "Young’s efforts to dock his own pay, however, are duck soup compared to his larger goal: docking the pay of every lawmaker when Congress drops the budget ball." His bill to stiff his colleagues has only mustered the support of three of them. Another bill, sponsored by Rep. Jim Cooper (D-TN), has about three dozen co-sponsors.

How Far Away from Cleveland is the California GOP Staying?
7 hours ago

Sixty miles away, in Sandusky, Ohio. "We're pretty bitter about that," said Harmeet Dhillon, vice chairwoman of the California Republican Party. "It sucks to be California, we're like the ugly stepchild. They need us for our cash and our donors, they don't need us for anything else."