Apple, Google, Facebook and others call for U.S. spying reform

Apple, Google, Facebook and other tech companies on Wednesday joined with public advocacy groups to call for reforming the nation’s spying laws.

In a letter to President Obama, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, legislators and others, the alliance of more than 40 companies, trade group and others urged a stop to the bulk collection of phone records under Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act, which is scheduled to expire June 1 unless Congress acts to reauthorize it.

“Our broad, diverse, and bipartisan coalition believes that the status quo is untenable and that it is urgent that Congress move forward with reform,” said the letter, whose signatories include the ACLU, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Mozilla, the Wikimedia Foundation and tech industry groups representing Apple, Google, Facebook, Twitter and others.

The tech industry has been pushing for NSA spying reforms since the leaks by former U.S. government tech contractor Edward Snowden showed that massive surveillance of foreign terrorism suspects have also scooped up online information and communications of average Americans.

“It has been nearly two years since the first news stories revealed the scope of the United States’ surveillance and bulk collection activities. Now is the time to take on meaningful legislative reforms to the nation’s surveillance programs that maintain national security while preserving privacy, transparency, and accountability,” the letter said.

The White House has pushed for Congress to act, too.

“Allowing Section 215 to sunset would result in the loss, going forward, of a critical national security tool that is used in a variety of additional contexts that don’t involve the collection of bulk data,” White House spokesman Ned Price said, according to the Wall Street Journal. “That is why we have underscored the imperative of congressional action in the coming weeks, and we welcome the opportunity to work with lawmakers on such legislation.”

Meanwhile, Reps. Mark Pocan, D-Wis., and Thomas Massie, R-Ky., on Tuesday introduced the Surveillance State Repeal Act, which would overturn the 2001 Patriot Act. It would also repeal the 2008 FISA Amendments Act. Both bills have been used to justify mass surveillance in the name of anti-terrorism efforts. The Hill writes that Pocan and Massie’s measure is likely to be a “non-starter in Congress,” noting that a similar bill introduced in 2013 failed to gain traction in the House.

 

Photo: A protester with the organization Code Pink wears giant glasses with the message “Stop Spying” in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 29, 2013 (Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images)

 

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  • Sy Devoe

    Slow news day huh?
    Oh yes, do you actually expect a republican dominated house & senate to vote
    against national Intelligence agencies spying?

    What planet did you say you’re from?

    • alrui

      Both sides are involved in this garbage – WAKE UP!

  • alrui

    Time for a revolution folks! These a-holios arent going to stop this crap, they live for it!

 
 
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