Eight of the biggest technology companies in the world have jointly called for reforms to global surveillance laws, launching a site called Global Government Surveillance Reform, which sets out the following principles:
1. Limiting Governments’ Authority to Collect Users’ Information
2. Oversight and Accountability
3. Transparency About Government Demands
4. Respecting the Free Flow of Information
5. Avoiding Conflicts Among Governments
The companies announced the initiative through full-page ads in the New York Times, Washington Post, Politico, Roll Call, and The Hill, and asked the US to take the lead in surveillance reform (presumably, because the US has taken the lead in surveillance itself):
Dear Mr. President and Members of Congress,
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 subject to independent oversight. To see the full set of principles we support, visit ReformGovernmentSurveillance.com
AOL, Apple, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Twitter, Yahoo
I write books. My latest is a YA science fiction novel called Homeland (it's the sequel to Little Brother). More books: Rapture of the Nerds (a novel, with Charlie Stross); With a Little Help (short stories); and The Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow (novella and nonfic). I speak all over the place and I tweet and tumble, too.