Tech Giants Launch Group Aimed At Government Surveillance Reform

AOL, Apple, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Twitter, and Yahoo have banded together to start a group that proposes principles for better laws and practices for government surveillance. The companies also urge the president and the United States Congress in an open letter to take the lead on reform.

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The Global Government Surveillance Reform's website says it believes "current laws and practices need to be reformed" and it lays out reforms that would ensure "government law enforcement and intelligence efforts are rule-bound, narrowly tailored, transparent, and subject to oversight."

The technology companies' call for surveillance reform comes after this summer's revelations learned from Edward Snowden's leak about the government's top-secret surveillance, which is referenced in the group's open letter to Washington that asks for reform based on agreed-upon principles.

The group asks the world's governments to take on these principles:

1. Limiting governments' authority to collect users' information

2. Oversight and accountability

3. Transparency about government demands

4. Respecting the free flow of information

5. Avoiding conflicts among governments

Reports about government surveillance have shown there is a real need for greater disclosure and new limits on how governments collect information. The US government should take this opportunity to lead this reform effort and make things right.
The security of users' data is critical, which is why we've invested so much in encryption and fight for transparency around government requests for information. This is undermined by the apparent wholesale collection of data, in secret and without independent oversight, by many governments around the world. It's time for reform and we urge the US government to lead the way.
AOL is committed to preserving the privacy of our customers' information, while respecting the right of governments to request information on specific users for lawful purposes. AOL is proud to unite with other leading Internet companies to advocate on behalf of our consumers.

Michelle Broder Van Dyke is a reporter and night editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in Hawaii.

Contact Michelle Broder Van Dyke at michelle@buzzfeed.com.

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