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Leading technology firms form alliance to protect public ‘trust in the internet’

In response to the surveillance scandal that surfaced in June this year, leading global technology firms have called for government reforms on surveillance. This follows leaked documents by ex-US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden, emphasising the extent of surveillance carried out by the US government.

Facebook, Twitter, Google, Yahoo, Linkedin, Apple, Microsoft and AOL have created an alliance to help preserve the public’s “trust in the internet” and will publish an open letter to Barack Obama and Congress this coming Monday.

In the letter, the group argues that current surveillance practices undermine freedoms and undercut constitutional rights. It also highlights the prevalent notion that the balance in many countries has tipped too far in favour of the state and away from the rights of the individual.

Mark Zuckerberg, chief executive of Facebook, commented: “Reports about government surveillance have shown there is a real need for greater disclosure and new limits on how government collects information.”

According to Brad Smith, Microsoft’s general counsel: “People won’t use technology they don’t trust. Governments have put this trust at risk, and governments need to help restore it.”

Furthermore, the letter also argues that requests for companies to hand over individual data should be limited by new rules that balance the “need for the data in limited circumstances, users’ reasonable privacy interests, and the impact on trust in the internet.”

Overall, the aim of the letter is to draw attention to 5 major issues and push a reform of the current system. These include limiting the governments’ authority to collect users’ personal information, transparency about government demands and avoiding conflicts among governments.



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