Technology companies form coalition to counter NSA data collection

The Reform Government Surveillance movement is a group of major U.S. tech companies to petition for limited government data collection

The NSA revelations, as leaked by Edward Snowden in June 2013, will likely become a marker of President Barack Obama's term in office as global leaders and the U.S. citizenry flew into rages following the revelation that the National Security Agency was conducting mass surveillance tactics on the back ends of major technology companies' products. Obama's general response to many of the subsequent requests and clamors for transparency has proved unsatisfactory the majority of the public and tech companies. Some of these technology companies have now banded together to submit a formal request to the U.S. government to cease collecting bulk data on their customers.

The companies that have joined an effort dubbed "Reform Government Surveillance" include Google, Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Microsoft. 

The group's site describes its mission: "Consistent with established global norms of free expression and privacy and with the goals of ensuring that government law enforcement and intelligence efforts are rule-bound, narrowly tailored, transparent, and subject to oversight, we hereby call on governments to endorse the following principles and enact reforms that would put these principles into action." 

The ultimate goal of the coalition is to limit the government's ability to collect information, when it does so to ensure that they are doing so in a transparent way, and respecting the open and free nature of the modern data economy, and flow of information. CEOs of many of these companies -- including Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, Marissa Mayer of Yahoo, and Larry Page of Google -- have all at one point or another admitted that they are forced to be complicit in some data surveillance activity, and that as brands, they will aim to push for transparency moving forward.

But while many of these technology companies have come forward unofficially in various blog posts, comments at public forums, and in interviews to decry the NSA's mass data collection practices, none of them has formed any such coalition before, and in conjunction with public appeal. The site thedaywefightback.org has been launched on February 11 as a source for public users to join with the technology companies' efforts, and urging them to contact local representatives to petition for lessened government surveillance.

 

Further reading:

NSA and GCHQ collecting data through popular mobile apps

Apple denies aiding NSA data collection from iPhones

Judge rules NSA collection ‘almost certainly’ violates Constitution

Contributing Author

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Juliana Kenny

Juliana Kenny is a contributor to InsideCounsel.com, covering a range of topics including patent litigation, conflict mineral laws, executive compensation, and antitrust regulation. Juliana earned B.A.s...

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