Google, Apple, Microsoft, and others back bill against NSA surveillance

By on November 1, 2013, 10:30 AM
google, apple, microsoft, yahoo, facebook, nsa, aol, surveillance, jim sensenbrenner, patrick leahy, usa freedom act

The letter follows a similar push made by the tech giants previously and is mainly focused on the issue of transparency. These companies want to be allowed to disclose more information regarding government data requests.

Beyond that, the companies are pushing for improvements to "privacy protections" as well as for deeper and more "appropriate oversight and accountability mechanisms" to be put in place with regards to prying government eyes. At this point it appears these protections and oversight improvements are mentioned on a general basis as there is no information on what these measures could include.

While this sort of pressure has been in place previously, the open letter represents the tech giants coming together behind a bill that has received bipartisan support with sponsorship from Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI). The open letter, which was sent to members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, "applauds" the USA Freedom Act, which would see an end to bulk data collection of private communications of Americans.

Leahy and Sensenbrenner wrote an editorial piece regarding the importance of the bill saying that the intelligence community has not been able to justify its actions and that it's "simply not accurate to say that the bulk collection of phone records has prevented dozens of terrorist plots. The most senior NSA officials have acknowledged as much in congressional testimony." Senator Leahy added in a later statement that it is "time for serious and meaningful reforms so we can restore confidence in our intelligence community."

While both the companies and the government are obviously trying to restore public confidence, there is a more international factor at play here as well. With the recent news that Germany was considering blocking the country off in favor of a local national internet, there is likely some worry among the tech industry that foreign users will move to new or local services to avoid NSA surveillance.




User Comments: 7

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1 person liked this | insect said:

I wonder when a bill will be proposed to stop Google, MS, etc. from spying on us?

People are all in an uproar because the NSA is snooping on them, but they willing let the tech giants snoop on them for profit? I'm willing to bet Google collects more information about people and knows more about people's communications and activities than the NSA does or even cares to know given all the searches, GPS in android phones, apps, Google+, etc etc..

Google is out to make money from your information (either by selling it on anyway or doing their own internal data crunches to see where they should market next), the NSA just wants to know if you're building a bomb in your garage (which they can, ironically enough, figure out from snooping on your Google searches). I'm betting these companies are more upset that the NSA got the data for free than the fact they actually got the data. They'd sell it to the NSA I'm sure.

1 person liked this | Guest said:

Obviously a publicity stunt since the leaks have caught everyone with their pants down. But still, it's a good thing.

spencer spencer said:

It's a trojan horse.

1 person liked this | spencer spencer said:

Lets look at the irony of bills recently the patriot act-allows indefinite detention with no evidence or trial without habeas corpus. The affordable care act- insurance premiums go up 200+% and now the USA freedom act does the opposite of disallowing unconstitutional searches but gives them the "freedom" to spy on you;it just has to take all of the people they wish to spy on, take it to a FISA court and say"were watching them to make sure they aren't terrorists" where that is classified as an "exception";So in fact it legalizes nsa surveillance.

1 person liked this | lipe123 said:

I wonder when a bill will be proposed to stop Google, MS, etc. from spying on us?

People are all in an uproar because the NSA is snooping on them, but they willing let the tech giants snoop on them for profit? I'm willing to bet Google collects more information about people and knows more about people's communications and activities than the NSA does or even cares to know given all the searches, GPS in android phones, apps, Google+, etc etc..

Google is out to make money from your information (either by selling it on anyway or doing their own internal data crunches to see where they should market next), the NSA just wants to know if you're building a bomb in your garage (which they can, ironically enough, figure out from snooping on your Google searches). I'm betting these companies are more upset that the NSA got the data for free than the fact they actually got the data. They'd sell it to the NSA I'm sure.

There is no Bill required, all you need to do is not use their free and 100% optional services. You agree to their ToS when you sign up, don't look toward the government to protect you from yourself when you cant be bothered to read.

It's one thing for google to give you an ad based on a word in an email your typed and another thing when the NSA keeps a recording of a phone call you made to someone. Or puts you on a no-fly list because of joke email your forwarded etc.

Get your facts straight, this is actually something good the "bad guys" is trying to do and you complain still?

insect said:

There is no Bill required, all you need to do is not use their free and 100% optional services. You agree to their ToS when you sign up, don't look toward the government to protect you from yourself when you cant be bothered to read.

It's one thing for google to give you an ad based on a word in an email your typed and another thing when the NSA keeps a recording of a phone call you made to someone. Or puts you on a no-fly list because of joke email your forwarded etc.

Get your facts straight, this is actually something good the "bad guys" is trying to do and you complain still?

Uh, if only it were that easy. Ever visited a web-page with Ghostery turned on? Techspot alone has 16 trackers (among them, Google, Twitter, Facebook, and a myriad of third party trackers that sell the others). I don't remember signing a TOS for that (and wouldn't need to because guests and accounts are both tracked by IP). Basically, using the internet in anyway means you lose your privacy, but considering that it has been suggested by the U.N. to be a human right at this point, I don't see why I should go without internet because someone else wants to know what I'm searching. I suppose I could go to the Library and check out books on the topics... but oh wait... I need library card with a unique code that is tracked via computers for that (for late-returns, but also to see what I'm reading)...

Also, I never called them "bad guys" - I could care less that they track me. I just block all the crap they try to market at me because I'm tech savvy enough.

It's not possible to not be tracked anymore in the U.S. unless you go back to completely self-sustained and cash only without any bills or mailing address (I.e., hunter/gatherer/barter-system).

SNGX1275 SNGX1275, TS Forces Special, said:

There is no Bill required, all you need to do is not use their free and 100% optional services. You agree to their ToS when you sign up, don't look toward the government to protect you from yourself when you cant be bothered to read.

You actually think his thought process was one that encouraged your response?

No.

It was that there is no choice. If you want to be online, you have no choice to accept a TOS from a provider, if you are lucky there are more than 1 providers for similar service for the same price frame, but in reality that doesn't happen. It also doesn't happen that there are any ISPs out there that offer any semblance of a 'modern' speed without a TOS that tosses the consumer into a world of hurt.

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