Tech giants align, call for transparency
MANILA, Philippines - At least 63 companies, investors, non-profit organizations, and trade groups are set to publicly demand greater transparency in US government surveillance.
AllThingsD reports that the coalition letter, which is scheduled to be made public on July 18 (US time), wants US President Barack Obama and the leaders of the US congress to let Internet, telephone, and Internet-based service providers be more specific in reporting national security-related requests for information.
AllThingsD, which received a copy of the letter prior to publication, says the coalition wants to be allowed to report on a number of different national security-related issues regularly. These include:
- "The number of government requests for information about their users
- The number of individuals, accounts, or devices for which information was requested
- The number of requests that sought communications content, basic subscriber information, and/or other information."
Among the requests was that the government itself issue its own transparency report. This would have the same information given out by members of the coalition, such as how many requests for information were made over a given period, as well as the number of people, accounts, or devices the government wanted to look into.
The letter asserts that "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. This information about how and how often the government is using these legal authorities is important to the American people, who are entitled to have an informed public debate about the appropriateness of those authorities and their use," the letter goes on to say.
Below is a provided sample of the members of that coalition, which includes giants in the technological sector as well as civil liberties advocates.
- Union Square Ventures
- Y Combinator
- New Atlantic Ventures
- The Electronic Frontier Foundation
- Human Rights Watch
- The American Civil Liberties Union
- The Center for Democracy & Technology
- Reporters Committee for Freedom of The Press
- Public Knowledge
- The Computer & Communications Industry Association
- Reporters Without Borders
- The Wikimedia Foundation.