Apple, Google, Microsoft and others call on Obama to reform surveillance methods

9 Dec 2013

Eight technology giants, including Apple, Google and Microsoft, have called on Obama’s US government and the US Congress to reform surveillance methods after former NSA contractor Edward Snowden exposed the practices.

In a brief letter on the companies wrote: “This summer’s revelations highlighted the urgent need to reform government surveillance practices worldwide. The balance in many countries has tipped too far in favour of the state and away from the rights of the individual – rights that are enshrined in our constitution.”

During the summer, former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden defected to Hong Kong and then Moscow after revealing the existence of PRISM, a system used to spy on the web traffic of various internet giants. The revelations continue to trickle out, including one that left many European leaders red-faced after it emerged that the NSA was spying on their mobile phone usage.

As well as the letter – supported by full-page ads in Sunday editions of The New York Times and Washington Post – the website includes testimonials from tech leaders, such as Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer and Google CEO Larry Page.

The companies are calling on the US government to adhere to five principles of reform, including limiting governments’ authority to collect user data, oversight and accountability, transparency about government demands, respecting the free flow of information, and avoiding conflicts among governments.

Hacker image via Shutterstock

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years