Eight major tech companies call on Obama to limit US surveillance

Tech EyeEight major technology companies have banded together to ask President Barack Obama to reform the current US intelligence operations that have led to massive data collection with next to no legal oversight.

After learning about the back door access agencies such as the NSA have managed to achieve, companies who are only just learning about the extent of the surveillance are speaking out. Microsoft, one of the signers of an open letter to President Obama, has already released a statement about plans to heighten work on encryption for user safety. But this letter asks for measures on the government’s end to be enacted.

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, the reform call reads.

While the undersigned companies understand that governments need to take action to protect their citizens’ safety and security, we strongly believe that current laws and practices need to be reformed.

Included in the signatures are Microsoft, Google, Apple, Yahoo, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and AOL. All are fierce market competitors, and while they have collaborated before, the level of unity that is being displayed on this issue is somewhat surprising.

The primary call is for a transparency and limitations on scope.

Consistent with established global norms of free expression and privacy and with the goals of ensuring that government law enforcement and intelligence efforts are rule-bound, narrowly tailored, transparent, and subject to oversight, we hereby call on governments to endorse the following principles and enact reforms that would put these principles into action.

Technology companies are not the only ones who have been calling for greater surveillance restrictions and new practices. World governments have condemned the actions of the US, including an EU wide call for an end to the program. However, such calls have lacked teeth thanks to those same governments having their own secretive spying programs.

Likewise, the calls by Congress have been questioned, as it remains unclear how much of the program they were aware of. Though the issue has unified both parties, with bipartisan efforts on the USA Freedom Act being penned by Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner Jr. (R-WI) and Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-VT).

Meanwhile, gamers might be alarmed to learn the NSA has been infiltrating online gaming worlds such as Second Life and World of Warcraft. That includes putting agents directly into the MMORPG’s as players, in a combined effort with the UK’s GCHQ.

Even our geek havens are not safe.

Sources: RGS, The Guardian

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