March 10, 2014
US tech companies call for more controls on surveillance
Eight major US web companies, including Apple, Google and Facebook, made a joint call today for tighter controls on how governments collect personal data, intensifying the furor over online surveillance.
In an open letter to US President Barack Obama and Congress, the companies said recent revelations showed the balance had tipped too far in favor of the state in many countries and away from the individual.
In June, former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden exposed top secret government surveillance programs that tap into communications on cables linking technology companies' various data centers overseas.
After Snowden's disclosure, many of the big Internet companies warned that American businesses may lose revenue abroad as distrustful customers switched to local alternatives.
"We understand that governments have a duty to protect their citizens," said the letter from the eight firms which also included Microsoft Corp, Twitter, LinkedIn Corp, Yahoo Inc and AOL Inc.
"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."
Several of the eight companies, which have a combined market capitalization of nearly $1.4 trillion, have responded by publicizing their decision to boost encryption and security on their sites.