US tech firms demand spying overhaul

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In an open letter, Apple, Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Yahoo, LinkedIn, Twitter and AOL criticized the current US surveillance laws that they argue have hurt public�™s �œtrust” and their business.

In response to revelations that the US National Security Agency is collecting Internet records of millions of people in the United States and across the world, leading technology companies are calling for sweeping changes to US surveillance laws, a report says.

The Guardian reported Monday that Apple, Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Yahoo, LinkedIn, Twitter and AOL will publish an open letter on Monday to Barack Obama and Congress, criticizing the current laws that they argue have hurt public�™s �œtrust” and their business.

�œThe 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 signed by the eight US-based Internet giants urges. �œThis undermines the freedoms we all cherish. It�™s time for change.”

The demand by the companies comes six months after disclosures by the former NSA contractor Edward Snowden that the agency is spying on almost everybody in the US.

The companies argue that the spying scandals have shaken public faith in the Internet. They also blame American spy agencies for the resulting threat to their business interests, according to the report.

�œPeople won�™t use technology they don�™t trust,” the British newspaper quoted Brad Smith, Microsoft’s general counsel, as saying. �œGovernments have put this trust at risk, and governments need to help restore it.”

�œRecent revelations about government surveillance activities have shaken the trust of our users, and it is time for the United States government to act to restore the confidence of citizens around the world,” Marissa Mayer, chief executive of Yahoo, said.

The American companies also want to be allowed to disclose how often surveillance requests are made, the report said.

The NSA spying scandal broke in early June when The Guardian reported that the super spy agency was collecting the telephone records of tens of millions of Americans. Since then, various documents revealed by Snowden have suggested that the agency is also spying on foreign nationals living in the United States as well as many ordinary people and political leaders throughout the world.

ARA/ARA

Source: Press TV