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Apple's Tim Cook & other tech leaders urge US Senate to do more to curb government surveillance

post #1 of 28
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Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook and a number of other high-profile tech leaders sent a letter to the U.S. Senate this week, urging them to beef up the proposed USA Freedom Act which would restrict government surveillance of Internet users.

Redacted


Cook was joined by Google's Larry Page, Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, Microsoft's Satya Nadella, and Yahoo's Marissa Mayer in signing the letter to the Senate. In it, the CEOs argued that rights have "tipped too far" in favor of governments, and are impeding on individuals' rights.

Specifically, the tech industry has taken issue with the USA Freedom Act that passed the U.S. House of Representatives, which would allow bulk collection of Internet "metadata." With this information, government organizations such as the National Security Agency could determine who users email and who sends them emails.

The tech industry also wants even greater transparency of surveillance than the House bill would provide. The CEOs believe their companies should be allowed to inform customers about the number and type of government requests they receive.

"It is in the best interest of the United States to resolve these issues," the letter reads. "Confidence in the Internet, both in the U.S. and internationally, has been badly damaged over the last year. It is time for action."

Joining Cook and the others were also AOL CEO Tim Armstrong, Dropbox CEO Drew Houston, LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner, and Twitter CEO Dick Costolo. The consortium first came together in late 2013 to call on the government for substantial reforms to regulation and oversight of surveillance performed by agencies like the NSA.

The full letter issued to the U.S. Senate this week is included below:

Dear Members of the Senate:

It's been a year since the first headlines alleging the extent of government surveillance on the Internet.

We understand that governments have a duty to protect their citizens. But the balance in many countries has tipped too far in favor of the state and away from the rights of the individual. This undermines the freedoms we all cherish, and it must change.

Over the last year many of our companies have taken important steps, including further strengthening the security of our services and taking action to increase transparency. But the government needs to do more.

In the next few weeks, the Senate has the opportunity to demonstrate leadership and pass a version of the USA Freedom Act that would help restore the confidence of Internet users here and around the world, while keeping citizens safe.

Unfortunately, the version that just passed the House of Representatives could permit bulk collection of Internet "metadata" (e.g. who you email and who emails you), something that the Administration and Congress said they intended to end. Moreover, while the House bill permits some transparency, it is critical to our customers that the bill allow companies to provide even greater detail about the number and type of government requests they receive for customer information.

It is in the best interest of the United States to resolve these issues. Confidence in the Internet, both in the U.S. and internationally, has been badly damaged over the last year. It is time for action. As the Senate takes up this important legislation, we urge you to ensure that U.S. surveillance efforts are clearly restricted by law, proportionate to the risks, transparent, and subject to independent oversight.

post #2 of 28

Hear, hear!

NSA has become the new Google...

post #3 of 28
Chances of the Senate actually listening to these doyens of wisdom is nil !!
post #4 of 28

Sorry, Tim. You can’t ask the government to remove its own control. We have to take care of that.

 

Apple needs to encrypt everything it does RSA 4096, and then simply refuse to give anything up.

Originally Posted by helia

I can break your arm if I apply enough force, but in normal handshaking this won't happen ever.
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Originally Posted by helia

I can break your arm if I apply enough force, but in normal handshaking this won't happen ever.
Reply
post #5 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post
 

Sorry, Tim. You can’t ask the government to remove its own control. We have to take care of that.

 

Apple needs to encrypt everything it does RSA 4096, and then simply refuse to give anything up.

 

The only way to solve problems in Washington is to defund and shut down programs or fight money with more money. The city is built on graft.


Edited by SpamSandwich - 6/5/14 at 11:27am

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post #6 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

Sorry, Tim. You can’t ask the government to remove its own control. We have to take care of that.

Apple needs to encrypt everything it does RSA 4096, and then simply refuse to give anything up.

Oh, I don't think that's a possible solution at all. The moment a company "refuses to give" the NSA what they want, the company would get branded as supporting terrorism, and be shut down.  The US Airforce would follow and potentially shoot down Apple's private jets, and US Marshals would troop into the Cupertino HQ, seizing all computers and documents, and jailing any noncompliant employees.  Farfetched?  Hardly. As Mr. Snowden has shown, nothing is outside the realm of possibility.

post #7 of 28
Originally Posted by TeaEarleGreyHot View Post
Farfetched? Hardly.

 

Well, them doing that would fix the problems faster than anything else. People would rise up, we’d have a second revolution, and things would be reset.

Originally Posted by helia

I can break your arm if I apply enough force, but in normal handshaking this won't happen ever.
Reply

Originally Posted by helia

I can break your arm if I apply enough force, but in normal handshaking this won't happen ever.
Reply
post #8 of 28

Makes sense.  Tech companies realize that if a customer buying one of their products/services is equated in that customers mind to inviting Big Brother to observe just about anything then their sales will suffer (or, in Apple's case, they'll care about the user's experience and perceptions directly, with profits taking a close second).

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- Gordon Hinckley

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post #9 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post
 

Apple needs to encrypt everything it does RSA 4096, and then simply refuse to give anything up.

 

I can't remember - was that encryption scheme one that NSA had it's paws in the development of?

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post #10 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by TeaEarleGreyHot View Post

Oh, I don't think that's a possible solution at all. The moment a company "refuses to give" the NSA what they want, the company would get branded as supporting terrorism, and be shut down.  The US Airforce would follow and potentially shoot down Apple's private jets, and US Marshals would troop into the Cupertino HQ, seizing all computers and documents, and jailing any noncompliant employees.  Farfetched?  Hardly. As Mr. Snowden has shown, nothing is outside the realm of possibility.

Or maybe that company refusing to cooperate might find itself slapped with bogus price-fixing charges, or tax evasion investigations.

By the way, I have a vague feeling that one company is missing from the list of tech leaders here. My mind is not what it used to be though . . . It's on the tip of my tongue . . . something to do with a lot of people searching for and buying a lot of stuff that shows how they think and live . . . I'll think of it . . . I think they just bought a newspaper . . .
post #11 of 28

I know i have not commented in a while - but i think this is political theatre to appease the customer base as PRETENDING TO DO SO but not actually doing anything.  I agree with a previous comment that said if SAID company does not comply with demands of big brother - then surely bogus investigations would follow.

 

This is NOT to far fetched to believe.

 

So business as usual - google's gmail encryption will still be given backdoor access to the NSA (I assume or perhaps the NSA helped develop this encryption) the NSA will still continue purchase data from at&t since i guess at&t was the smartest one to actually sell the data and make a buck vs. giving NSA unfettered access into their network for free.

 

Oh and how Microsoft is asking for the same NOW - but had no problem with "NSA.key" in older versions of windows when the 2 of them were buddy buddy.

 

So PA-LEEEEEEEEAAASE!

post #12 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by boredumb View Post
 

Hear, hear!

NSA has become the new Google...

or cant rule out there are not 2 of the same?  one begot the other? lol.

post #13 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Flaneur View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by TeaEarleGreyHot View Post

Oh, I don't think that's a possible solution at all. The moment a company "refuses to give" the NSA what they want, the company would get branded as supporting terrorism, and be shut down.

Or maybe that company refusing to cooperate might find itself slapped with bogus price-fixing charges, or tax evasion investigations.

Or, the CEO will receive a "phone call at 3AM" playing a recording of his latest conversation with his mistress...
post #14 of 28
Even Congress is beholden to the income of top corporations. Letting the government see their data was probably just fine when it did not hurt their bottom lines and everybody was having to do it. This is no longer the case so they are expecting a much stronger privacy screen from the government while they are still going to be allowed to collect all the data they want on "their" customers. Amazon not being on this list probably shows how serious they are about directly competing for supplying compute resources to the US government.

Amazon knows that they can't keep hiding their income by "reinvesting", and expect Wall Street to keep sipping at the trough. They need a growing business that gives them long term technical leadership. Robotics, and cloud computing, and data mining, look to be their current major bets. Ultimately, the government is the best source of income for cloud computing. Search remains the real key to all of this because it directly leads to AI.

Cisco is another interesting company missing from this list. I suspect this means more of their current and future income is being juiced by the NSA, and or the CIA.

The real problem here for Silicon Valley is China's government publications are beating the drums for all the Chinese tech companies to get their strategic computing assets out of American Companies. The whole Snowden affair offers them such a beautiful response if America uses international trade organizations to claim that China is merely protecting their own trade interests. Snowden gives China's leadership the lever they need to build competitors to all of these companies before they swallow a big chunk of the Chinese market. Best of all America has been claiming China's companies are spying on them and using this as a justification for cutting Chinese communications companies out of business contracts that affect American "security". We can't even complain about what China is doing because we are already doing it ourselves. Silicon Valley is really out on a limb because China is such a big part of their future marketshare plans.

Google's loss of face in China was no accident. The leaders of the Communist party knew full well that Google was the most important company to block from their economy. Having a tool that lets them block the rest of silicon valley's heavy weights gives them the lever they need to build a strong service based economy that can compete directly with America. Google's direct affect on their ability to strangle the political information that their citizens are able to see makes the Chinese position on Google an open and shut case for them.

So the question becomes what will Congress do? Will they ignore the huge potential source of campaign financing that could come out of these companies coffers if they get their way, or will they bow to the inevitable and give them what they ask for?
post #15 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post
 

 

The only way to solve problems in Washington is to defund and shut down programs or fight money with more money. The city is built on graft.

Clearly you don't live in our wonderful country. The programs get funded by congress and the House of Representatives controls the money. Apple  or any tech company would have hard time fighting or defunding the bureaucracy that prints money at will. Our government tends to shave a bit off the fourth amendment. Actually these days I'm not sure we enforce any laws or follow the constitution. 

post #16 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by AtlApple View Post
 

Clearly you don't live in our wonderful country. The programs get funded by congress and the House of Representatives controls the money. Apple  or any tech company would have hard time fighting or defunding the bureaucracy that prints money at will. Our government tends to shave a bit off the fourth amendment. Actually these days I'm not sure we enforce any laws or follow the constitution. 

 

What are you talking about? Of course I'm an American. I made no mention of who controls the purse strings, only that unless a program is defunded it is basically guaranteed to continue to grow (like the many black budgets and pet projects that are ultimately accountable to no one).

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GOA

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post #17 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by AtlApple View Post

Clearly you don't live in our wonderful country. The programs get funded by congress and the House of Representatives controls the money. Apple  or any tech company would have hard time fighting or defunding the bureaucracy that prints money at will. Our government tends to shave a bit off the fourth amendment. Actually these days I'm not sure we enforce any laws or follow the constitution. 

How could you doubt that anyone with a user name like @SpamSandwich be anything but American. lol.gif
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post #18 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by dasanman69 View Post


How could you doubt that anyone with a user name like @SpamSandwich be anything but American. lol.gif

 

In fairness, I could be Polynesian.

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post #19 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post

In fairness, I could be Polynesian.

You would've been SpamShishKabob lol.gif
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post #20 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post
 

 

What are you talking about? Of course I'm an American. I made no mention of who controls the purse strings, only that unless a program is defunded it is basically guaranteed to continue to grow (like the many black budgets and pet projects that are ultimately accountable to no one).

My comment was more of a joking sarcastic nature. My point was our government pretty much does whatever they like even if it violates the constitution. 

post #21 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Flaneur View Post
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by TeaEarleGreyHot View Post

Oh, I don't think that's a possible solution at all. The moment a company "refuses to give" the NSA what they want, the company would get branded as supporting terrorism, and be shut down.  The US Airforce would follow and potentially shoot down Apple's private jets, and US Marshals would troop into the Cupertino HQ, seizing all computers and documents, and jailing any noncompliant employees.  Farfetched?  Hardly. As Mr. Snowden has shown, nothing is outside the realm of possibility.

Or maybe that company refusing to cooperate might find itself slapped with bogus price-fixing charges, or tax evasion investigations.

By the way, I have a vague feeling that one company is missing from the list of tech leaders here. My mind is not what it used to be though . . . It's on the tip of my tongue . . . something to do with a lot of people searching for and buying a lot of stuff that shows how they think and live . . . I'll think of it . . . I think they just bought a newspaper . . .

 

Oh yes. Now you mention it, that reminds me that Steve Jobs couldn't stand bozos...

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post #22 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by dasanman69 View Post
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by AtlApple View Post

Clearly you don't live in our wonderful country. The programs get funded by congress and the House of Representatives controls the money. Apple  or any tech company would have hard time fighting or defunding the bureaucracy that prints money at will. Our government tends to shave a bit off the fourth amendment. Actually these days I'm not sure we enforce any laws or follow the constitution. 

How could you doubt that anyone with a user name like @SpamSandwich be anything but American. lol.gif

 

I thought spam was English.

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post #23 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Benjamin Frost View Post

I thought spam was English.

As English as English Muffins lol.gif

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spam_(food)
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post #24 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by dasanman69 View Post
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Benjamin Frost View Post

I thought spam was English.

As English as English Muffins lol.gif

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spam_(food)

 

You learn something every day! 

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post #25 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Benjamin Frost View Post

You learn something every day! 

Perhaps it's the popularity of Spam in the UK after WWII or the Monty Python skit that may have risen out of it that created that association.



PS: I never "got" Monty Python.

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post #26 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Benjamin Frost View Post

You learn something every day! 

Perhaps it's the popularity of Spam in the UK after WWII or the Monty Python skit that may have risen out of it that created that association.



PS: I never "got" Monty Python.

 

You're right - that's exactly the association I had in my mind. 

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post #27 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Benjamin Frost View Post

You learn something every day! 

Happy to help. I've learned a thing or two from you as well.
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post #28 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


Specifically, the tech industry has taken issue with the USA Freedom Act that passed the U.S. House of Representatives, which would allow bulk collection of Internet "metadata." With this information, government organizations such as the National Security Agency could determine who users email and who sends them emails

Not only that, they kill thanks to this metadata:

https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20140511/06390427191/michael-hayden-gleefully-admits-we-kill-people-based-metadata.shtml
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