Technology Firms Demand Change in Surveillance Reform

Some of the leading technology firms in the USA have come together and formed an alliance called Reform Government Surveillance group.

The group consists of eight companies, Google, Apple, Facebook, Twitter, AOL, Microsoft, LinkedIn and Yahoo with their main aim to persuade the US government to drastically change its surveillance programmes.

The group has been formed after Edward Snowden who is an ex US intelligence contractor revealed the extent of the surveillance that is carried out by the US government. Such surveillance methods involved tapping fibre-optic cables, collecting phone records and hacking networks.

In an open letter to Washington which can be found on their website, the group stated, “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.”

Members of the group believe that the level of surveillance that is going on has got out of hand and needs to be controlled.

Mark Zuckerberg who is the chief executive of Facebook stated, “Reports about government surveillance have shown there is a real need for greater disclosure and new limits on how governments collect information. The US government should take this opportunity to lead this reform effort and make things right.”

Since Snowden revealed the extent of the surveillance methods, the Reform Government Surveillance group is campaigning to have the permission to publish details of data requests. At the moment, some companies such as Apple and Google have revealed that they have had requests from the US authorities to hand data over but they are unable to detail just how much user data has been handed over to the authorities.

The Reform Government Surveillance group stated, “Transparency is essential to a debate over governments’ surveillance powers and the scope of programs that are administered under those powers. Governments should allow companies to publish the number and nature of government demands for user information. In addition, governments should also promptly disclose this data publicly,”

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