Apple, U.S. tech giants call for government spying reform in open letter to Congress

Posted:
in General Discussion edited March 2015
A number of powerful tech companies sent an open letter to Congress, President Barack Obama and other government agencies on Wednesday, arguing for drastic change in the nation's surveillance laws that currently allow for bulk consumer data collection.




In the wake of U.S. cyber surveillance revelations aired by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, global technology companies have joined forces with civil liberties organizations to put an end to bulk data collection.

An open letter (PDF link) calls for lawmakers to revisit the Patriot Act and curtail mass surveillance operations.

Representing a cadre of Silicon Valley companies, including Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Yahoo, among others, is the group Reform Government Surveillance. Other notable signatories include the ACLU, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Human Rights Watch.

Together, the groups and private companies are looking to reform Sections 214 and 215 of the Patriot Act. Specifically, Section 215, which affords agencies like the NSA legal protection to perform mass data gathering exercises without warrant, is scheduled to expire on June 1. At that time, Lawmakers will be able to revisit the provision to make changes.

The letter names two main goals in the fight against mass surveillance. First and foremost is a "clear, strong, and effective end to bulk collection practices," but barring complete reform, the group says any deemed lawful data collection should incorporate safeguards to protect user privacy.

Secondly, a reworked doctrine should contain "transparency and accountability mechanisms" for both the government and private sector firms. The group is also requesting a "declassification regime for Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court decisions."

Today's letter is in some ways a more strongly worded version of similar correspondence sent to Congressin late 2013.

For some companies, the push against mass surveillance is not so much rooted in an altruistic concern for the public good as it is the bottom line. Certain parties argue that consumers domestically and abroad could stop using their products for fear of government snooping, amounting to billions of dollars in losses.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 9

    Good. Very good.

  • Reply 2 of 9

    Not far enough. There's zero reason for Government Data collection. The NSA & DHS need to be completely abolished.

  • Reply 3 of 9

    The dolts in Congress had better listen.

     

    Otherwise, in the next few years, the brightest spot of innovation and value-creation in the US economy -- and by inference, the world -- will be toast.

  • Reply 4 of 9
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Lord Amhran View Post

     

    Not far enough. There's zero reason for Government Data collection. The NSA & DHS need to be completely abolished.


    I disagree with that. There are too many crazies in the world out to get us. (No, I am not paranoid.)

  • Reply 5 of 9
    buzdotsbuzdots Posts: 451member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

    Certain parties argue that consumers domestically and abroad could stop using their products for fear of government snooping, amounting to billions of dollars in losses.

    Certain parties argue that consumers domestically and abroad have stopped using their products because of government snooping, amounting to dollars lost.

     

    That's better... and true.

  • Reply 6 of 9
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member

    Let's rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic while Putin and ISIS are trying to start WWIII.

  • Reply 7 of 9
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by mstone View Post

     

    Let's rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic while Putin and ISIS are trying to start WWIII.


     

     

    That doesn't sound particularly fruitful. No-one is likely to sit on them when they're deep under the sea. I do appreciate that some people have a mania about being neat, though.

  • Reply 8 of 9
    xixoxixo Posts: 422member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post

     

    I disagree with that. There are too many crazies in the world out to get us. (No, I am not paranoid.)




    Yeah and most of them work for the US Government.

     

    image

  • Reply 9 of 9
    Why is there a graphic for PRISM being used if the issue is bulk collection? PRISM was never a bulk collection program, and the tech companies were the ones who proved that it wasn't. The government would serve warrants for specific data, and the tech company lawyers would review the warrants and then make recommendations on what to release. Yahoo! actually tried to sue over the issue by claiming that the warrants served should be based on probable cause rather than reasonable suspicion, but they had no evidence to support their case.
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