• Forecast
  • News Tip
  • Categories
Temperature Precipitation
Estimated read time
2m 8s

Tech giants call for controls on government snooping

By Danica Kirka, Raphael Satter/Associated Press 7:35 AM December 9, 2013

The letter was signed by AOL Inc., Apple Inc., Facebook Inc., Google Inc., LinkedIn Corp., Microsoft Corp., Twitter Inc. and Yahoo! Inc.

LONDON — Eight major technology companies have joined forces to call for tighter controls on government surveillance, issuing an open letter Monday to President Barack Obama arguing for reforms in the way the U.S. snoops on people.

The companies, which include Google, Facebook and Twitter, said that while they sympathize with national security concerns, recent revelations make it clear that laws should be carefully tailored to balance them against individual rights.

“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,” the letter said. “This undermines the freedoms we all cherish. It’s time for a change.”

The letter follows this summer’s revelations by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, who leaked details of the secret programs that critics argue violate privacy rights. Intelligence officials argue that the NSA’s tactics have helped to disrupt terror attacks and that they’ve taken care not to routinely look at the content of conversations or messages by American citizens.

But the technology companies’ campaign — aimed at governments across the globe — argues that officials should codify “sensible limitations on their ability to compel service providers to disclose user data” and to ensure that law enforcement and intelligence efforts should be transparent and accountable. In comments attached to the campaign’s website, CEOs and senior leaders of the companies also weighed in, making it clear they were personally behind reform.

“Reports about government surveillance have shown there is a real need for greater disclosure and new limits on how governments collect information,” said Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook. “The U.S. government should take this opportunity to lead this reform effort and make things right.”

Marissa Meyer, the chief executive at Yahoo, said the disclosures had “shaken the trust of our users.”

The letter was signed by AOL Inc., Apple Inc., Facebook Inc., Google Inc., LinkedIn Corp., Microsoft Corp., Twitter Inc. and Yahoo! Inc.

Opponents of the U.S. government’s global espionage program appeared to give the campaign a cautious welcome, although some of them said Silicon Valley’s stance probably had more to do with profit than principle.

“It sure would have been nice if the tech companies had been loudly supporting intelligence reform before Snowden’s disclosures,” said Chris Soghoian, a senior analyst with the American Civil Liberties Union.

WikiLeaks, which has helped Snowden win temporary asylum in Russia, said in a tweet that the corporations were only speaking out against mass surveillance “after seeing profit problems over their complicity in it.”

Latest Stories

  • News

    Ferry riders on Southeast route to see new ticket policy

    by Associated Press on Dec 02, 8:58

    The Alaska Marine Highway System is changing the way passengers pay for ferry sailings on a Southeast Alaska route starting next year. CoastAlaska News reports that ferry spokesman Jeremy Woodrow says those riding the small Lituya will pay for a round trip to go one direction and get a free trip on the way back. The […]

  • News

    Rescuers carry down skier after injury at Turnagain Pass

    by Associated Press on Dec 02, 8:07

    A 36-year-old Anchorage skier was carried to safety after an injury at Turnagain Pass. Alaska State Troopers say emergency responders in Soldotna on Wednesday received a call that Brett Harvey had been injured on Seattle Ridge and could not hike down. The nature of the injury was not disclosed. The Alaska Mountain Rescue Group, Anchorage […]

  • News

    Alaska aims to ban smoking in public housing by spring

    by Associated Press on Dec 02, 7:45

    The federal government is giving public housing agencies nationwide 18 months to implement a ban on smoking, but the state of Alaska is looking to crack down on tobacco much sooner. KYUK-AM reports the director of the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation, Cathy Stone, says the state’s ban on smoking in public housing developments could take effect […]

  • Streaming sports gets easier as NFL comes to CBS All Access

    by Associated Press on Dec 01, 21:44

    NEW YORK (AP) – CBS says NFL games are coming to its CBS All Access subscription service, making it a little easier for “cord cutters” to watch football without a pricey cable subscription. Games aired on CBS will be available for streaming on tablets, to TVs and on cbs.com starting Sunday, if customers live in […]

  • State sponsors de-escalation training for officers

    by Lauren Maxwell on Dec 01, 21:14

    Being able to keep people calm is an important skill, especially if you work in a prison. It’s one reason why the Alaska Department of Corrections is sponsoring a four-day training in Palmer, where corrections officials and other law enforcement officers are learning to use their words instead of their weapons. The state is paying a Milwaukee […]

  • Lifestyle

    Alaska observes World AIDS Day

    by Bonney Bowman on Dec 01, 20:31

    Thursday is World AIDS Day, a time to remember those lost and support those living with the disease and commit to preventing its spread. The Four A’s, Alaska’s AIDS support group, says it currently serves around 260 people in Alaska who live with HIV or AIDS. The group also works to educate people about prevention and the importance […]

  • News

    Small oil company delays loan repayment after Walker cut tax credits

    by Liz Raines on Dec 01, 20:22

    Last summer, Gov. Bill Walker postponed hundreds of millions of dollars in oil tax credit payments for the second year in a row. “We just didn’t have the cash flow to fund those at this point,” Walker explained after announcing the budget veto in July. Now, companies that were counting on those credits say they’re feeling […]

  • News

    Demolition begins on old Iditarod Elementary

    by Shannon Ballard on Dec 01, 19:36

    It’s the end of an era for some in the Mat-Su Borough School District. The old Iditarod Elementary School is being torn down. For years, there has been talk about what to do with the building, once students moved into a brand new building down the road. For a while, the Wasilla Police Department was […]