Kashmir Hill reported here at the end of October, to taking their case to President Obama and members of Congress directly in anopen letter published today. At risk is the public’s trust in the internet itself and all of the economic and cultural benefits it contains.
The letter, signed by AOL, Apple, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Twitter and Yahoo, urges the U.S. 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.” Microsoft’s general counsel, Brad Smith, released a statement asserting that, “People won’t use technology they don’t trust. Governments have put this trust at risk, and governments need to help restore it.”
This is a striking development given the varying degree to which these same companies have cooperated and/or collaborated with the NSA’s data collection efforts. Clearly the balance has tipped and America’s tech companies now feel emboldened to call for sweeping reforms even as the Democratic chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Dianne Feinstein of California, is sponsoring a bill maintain the security agencies’ right to continue to collect bulk data.
The Big-8, with a combined valuation of $1.4 trillion, are trying to convince their billions of users worldwide that they can still trust American tech companies. “For our part,” the open letter reads, “we are focused on keeping user’...