10 Dec 2013

Eight Internet Giants Are Urging President Obama To Limit Government Surveillance

By Brent Daggett: People won’t use technology they don’t trust.  Governments have put this trust at risk, and governments need to help restore it,” said Brad Smith, Microsoft general counsel and executive vice president, legal and corporate affairs.
On December 9, major internet corporations such as AOL, Apple, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Twitter and Yahoo collaborated on an open letter to President Obama and Congress urging them to reign in government surveillance.
The letter, which has appeared in several newspapers across the country, expressed these sentiments:
“We understand that governments have a duty to protect their citizens.  But this summer’s revelations highlighted the urgent need to reform government surveillance practices worldwide.  The balance in many countries has tipped too far in favor of the state and away from the rights of the individual- rights that are enshrined in our Constitution.  this undermines the freedoms we all cherish.  It’s time for a change.

For our part, we are focused on keeping users’ data secure-deploying the latest encryption technology to prevent unauthorized surveillance on our networks and by pushing back on government requests to ensure that they are legal and reasonable in scope.
We urge the US to take the lead and make reforms that ensure that government surveillance efforts are clearly restricted by law, proportionate to the risks, transparent and subjected to independent review.”
Besides the aforementioned declaration, the companies are laying out a five point plan on how to ensure individuals rights to privacy, which can be seen in full at ReformGovernmentSurveillance.com.

The reform would consist of  ”limiting governments authority to collect users’ information,” establish “oversight and accountability,” allow for “transparency about government demands,” respecting the free flow of information and avoiding conflicts among governments.       

“These principles embody LinkedIn’s fundamental commitment to transparency and ensuring appropriate government practices that are respectful of our members’ expectations,” stated Erika Rottenberg, LinkedIn general counsel.
Let’s hope President Obama and members of Congress address this issue and a sensible solution can be reached with regards to Constitutional rights.
“Twitter is committed to defending and protecting the voice of users.  Unchecked, undisclosed government surveillance inhibits the free flow of information and restricts their voice.  The principles we advance today would reform the current system to appropriately balance the needs of security and privacy while safeguarding the essential human right of free expression,” said Dick Costolo, CEO of Twitter.

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