Google and Facebook rise up against government Spying
by FFE EU News Staff
A new group called Reform Government Surveillance has just been formed that aims to call on American president Barack Obama and the Congress to make changes to existing surveillance laws.
The group is composed of competing technology companies including Google, Facebook, Apple, Twitter, Microsoft, Yahoo, AOL and LinkedIn. The united front wants to limit the government’s authority to access client information, and increase legislation and accountability against these government institutions.
In a letter from the group, they said ‘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. This undermines the freedoms we all cherish. It’s time for a change.’
Public surveillance through tech companies have received public outcry since National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden revealed America’s extensive mass surveillance of public and international entities. Organisations like NSA have long been able to tap tech companies for user information, a move that violates the user’s right to privacy.
As a response to the issue of privacy and government surveillance, president Obama had formed a group of advisers tasked to report on the issue within the month. The president assured the public that the NSA is not interested in people’s emails and text messages, but he said he will propose measures that will make NSA practice ‘self-restraint’ when dealing with data.
Oxford Internet Institute research fellow Joss Wright said that protecting user privacy was essential for the group since free flow of information was important in their business models.
UK charity group Privacy International meanwhile praised the companies’ move against surveillance. They added that this was an important step that will show people that their right to privacy has been violated by government.
‘It is time for drastic changes to how intelligence is regulated, conducted and overseen, and we welcome these companies’ contribution to this debate.’