US Tech Firms Call for Reform of US Spying Activities
Published on: 9th Dec 2013
By: Ian Mansfield
A number of USA based technology firms have written an open letter to the US government calling for a reform of its spying activities.
Eight companies -- Google, Apple, Facebook, Twitter, AOL, Microsoft, LinkedIn, and Yahoo -- have set up a joint alliance called Reform Government Surveillance group.
In the letter they said that while they understand that governments need to take action to protect their citizens' safety and security, they also "strongly believe that current laws and practices need to be reformed".
A set of five principles have been suggested that would limit government surveillance to specific targetted people or organisations and not use the wholesale sweeping up of information that has been prevalent so far.
For that to be possible though, the internet companies would probably have to cooperate with the spying agencies so that they can share targetted information rather than the spying agencies having to use back-doors to hoover up data and extract what they want.
There are calls for more transparancy and more oversight of the spy agencies.
More curiously, and an indication that the group might use the campaign for other issues, they say that "governments should permit the transfer of data and should not inhibit access by companies or individuals to lawfully available information that is stored outside of the country."
That could be a coded attack of European privacy laws that restrict the transmission of data outside the EU unless the recipient is compliant with European privacy standards.
The group also says that governments should not require service providers to locate infrastructure within a country's borders or operate locally.
Companies such as BlackBerry have been under pressure to base servers around the world in order to comply with local security regulations permitting the tapping of emails and messages.
Although BlackBerry is not a member of the group, it would be a significant beneficiary of that particular request.
On the web: Reform Government Surveillance