Apple Forms Alliance With Google, Microsoft And Others To Push For NSA Transparency

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Apple and some of Silicon Valley’s biggest companies have been under heavy fire ever since info on the National Security Administration’s PRISM program leaked to the public last month.

In response to the public’s outcry that tech companies are working with the NSA to pilfer personal info on targets of interest, Apple, Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Twitter and others have formed a broad alliance with civil liberties groups that will tomorrow demand for increased transparency regarding the U.S. government’s spy programs on citizens.

All Things D reports that the alliance will publish a letter Thursday, demanding President Obama and Congress allow tech companies to provide reports on information requests related to national security.


Here’s part of the letter:

“Basic information about how the government uses its various law enforcement–related investigative authorities has been published for years without any apparent disruption to criminal investigations. We seek permission for the same information to be made available regarding the government’s national security–related authorities.

… Just as the United States has long been an innovator when it comes to the Internet and products and services that rely upon the Internet, so too should it be an innovator when it comes to creating mechanisms to ensure that government is transparent, accountable, and respectful of civil liberties and human rights.”

While the letter is the most vocal call for transparency on the surveillance of digital communications, the specific demands don’t seem outlandish. The report states that the alliance will specifically ask permission to report the number of requests for info on users, the number of accounts or devices info was requested for and the number of requests they receive for communications content and basic info.

It’s not like Facebook, Google, Twitter and Apple are going to be able to tell the public which people the NSA is requesting information on or why, but we might get to see the tally of just how often Uncle Sam is wiretapping us.

I guess we have to start somewhere.

  • ekim1406

    Even if this does happen, there’s no way to verify that those numbers are real. I’m sure they won’t report actual numbers. But saying they are going to be more transparent for our benefit will make them look better to a lot of people i’m sure.

  • lwdesign1

    This is an excellent PR move to deflect criticism away from the companies involved and back onto the government who undoubtedly strong-armed the companies into violating the right to privacy and illegal search and seizure because of “national security”. It’s not what the govt. wants to hear, of course, and there’s no guarantee that anything whatsoever will come of it, but it’s still an excellent move to point out who the invaders are.

  • GarionDK

    @ekim1406> Why are you so sure the companies won’t report actual numbers? After all, that is the whole point of their campaign – to be allowed to disclose the actual number of requests they get from the government agencies.

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Buster HeinBuster Hein is Cult of Mac's Senior News Editor and lives in Phoenix, Arizona. Twitter: @bst3r.

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