Eight of the world’s biggest technology companies have formed a united front against the National Security Agency’s digital surveillance programs. Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL), Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG), Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) and Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) are among those speaking out through a new website, ReformGovernmentSurveillance.com. The other four companies taking a stand are LinkedIn Corp (NYSE:LNKD), Twitter Inc (NYSE:TWTR), Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ:YHOO) and AOL, Inc. (NYSE:AOL).
Apple, other tech companies take a stand
In addition to creating the website, Apple and the other technology companies are publishing a written letter to Congress and President Obama. That letter was slated to run in print newspapers around the country today.
“We understand that governments have a duty to protect their citizens,” the letter begins. “But this summer’s revelations highlighted the urgent need to reform government surveillance practices worldwide. The balance in many countries has tipped too far in favor 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.”
Microsoft, Facebook, Google execs post statements
Along with the letter on the website, executives from seven of the eight companies—Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Yahoo!, AOL, LinkedIn and Twitter—have all included statements of their own. Apple is the only one of the seven without a statement posted on there. Not sure if this is a mistake on the Reform Government Surveillance site or not, but Apple’s logo is missing from the very top section. Only the other seven logos are listed.
However, Apple’s name is listed along with the other seven as being one of the signing companies for the published letter. Also Apple’s logo is at the bottom of the website along with the other seven.
Tech companies list five basic principles
On the website, there are five reform principles the companies are calling for. They are: “limiting governments’ authority to collect users’ information;” “oversight and accountability;” “transparency about government demands;” “respecting the free flow of information;” and “avoiding conflicts among governments.” The letter that will be published in today’s newspapers refers readers back to the website to view all of these five principles in full.
Public outcry about NSA’s spying programs
The website and the letter are a clear response to the allegations made by whistleblower Edward Snowden over the summer. He revealed the NSA’s PRISM data mining program, which sparked off a firestorm of political and public outrage.
Since that revelation, Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) and the other technology companies have done their best to do damage control for themselves and come out on the side of consumers. So far, however, those efforts appear to have been mostly in vain.