Tech company giants AOL, Apple, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Twitter, and Yahoo have formed a historic alliance to encourage change in the US’ surveillance and privacy laws, an issue that has rocketed to notoriety since former NSA employee and fleeing hactivist Edward Snowden brought the US government – and the internet in general – to its knees after leaking documents that justified the tin foil hat-wearers paranoia of invaded online privacy. With the shutting down of the Silk Road, the increasingly upwards trend of bitcoins’ lucrative dividends, spying scandals that have since followed in France, Germany and of course, Indonesia, 2013 has been an immensely significant year in terms of internet privacy and the ways in which users are speaking out about legal blackholes that tend to permeate the web.
Evidently, for eight of the internet’s strongest players, the shock that came with Edward Snowden’s whistleblowing has reached breaking point, and the internet’s most important leaders have pulled together to create reformgovernmentsurveillance.com, writing an open letter to POTUS Barack Obama with “keeping users’ data secure” as their main mode of motivation for encouraging the reforms.
Listing five “principles” of the alliance’s desire for reform, the companies collectively cite “Respecting the free flow of information” and “Limiting governments’ authority to collect users’ information’ as part of their beliefs.
And while the reforms put forward by the eight companies address US laws in its open letter, Snowden’s leaks – especially those of the disconcerting project PRISM – plainly showed the world of the US’ virtual influence and the legal flaws which have allowed disrupted privacy on the Internet as a whole — not only in the United States.
Twitter’s CEO Dick Costolo perhaps put it best: “Unchecked, undisclosed government surveillance inhibits the free flow of information and restricts their voice. The principles we advance today would reform the current system to appropriately balance the needs of security and privacy while safeguarding the essential human right of free expression.”
Read the open letter and site in full here.
Via The Guardian.
Title photo by Justin Sullivan via Getty.