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Google, Microsoft, Facebook, others form coalition on spying

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(Tech News) The nation’s largest tech companies are calling for reform of government spying, pressing for more transparency.

spying

Coalition against government spying

In recent months, much of the National Security Agency’s operations have been unveiled and the government’s methods of surveillance have been made public, and it is now known that the NSA monitors at home and abroad, which several technology companies have objected to as the NSA fingers have been in their business without their knowledge or permission. But it’s not just the NSA, it is also the British and Australian governments being objected to.

Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Twitter, AOL, LinkedIn, and Yahoo have joined forces to created the Reform Government Surveillance coalition, asserting that spy tactics around the world must change.

“The undersigned companies believe that it is time for the world’s governments to address the practices and laws regulating government surveillance of individuals and access to their information,” their website reads, “We strongly believe that current laws and practices need to be reformed.”

The data the coalition objects to is blanket data collection orders to telecom companies, tech companies, and fiber optic cable taps on unencrypted areas of these companies’ data centers. The reform group is comprised of many of the companies included in the initial PRISM leaks.

The five reform principles

The reform government surveillance groups puts forth five principles:

  1. That governments’ authority to collect user information should be limited
  2. That there should be more oversight and accountability
  3. That there needs to be a lot more transparency around government demands
  4. That the “free flow” of information should be respected and not inhibited
  5. That governments should work with each other to protect their citizens’ privacy even where those laws may differ

The biggest of tech companies have already invested heavily in lobbying the government to update their surveillance policies, demanding transparency, but have yet to be allowed to make public the real numbers behind government data requests made under the Patriot Act as well as the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

AOL CEO Tim Armstrong, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Google CEO Larry Page, and Twitter CEO Dick Costolo wrote in an open letter to politicians, “We urge the US to take the lead and make reforms that ensure that government surveillance efforts are clearly restricted by law.”

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