US Tech Giants Demand Restrictions On Spying
The world's leading technology companies have called on the US to impose limits on surveillance after revelations of extensive snooping by the National Security Agency.
AOL, Apple, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Twitter and Yahoo said the public's trust in the internet needs to be preserved, and called for more transparency on surveillance practices.
"Reports about government surveillance have shown there is a real need for greater disclosure and new limits on how governments collect information," Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a statement.
Leaks by former security contractor Edward Snowden have showed that surveillance is far more pervasive than most Americans realised, and stirred a debate over the right to privacy.
The tech giants, whose reputation has been damaged in the scandal, are launching a campaign to restore confidence, using newspaper ads and a website to detail their efforts.
They are calling for greater regulations in online spying, including on the government's ability to compel service providers to disclose user data, and for strong judicial oversight.
They urge the US to take the lead in enforcing the new curbs.
"We understand that governments have a duty to protect their citizens," they said in a letter to President Barack Obama and to Congress.
But they added: "The balance in many countries has tipped too far in favour 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."
The campaign unites companies that are fierce competitors on the market.
It says government surveillance efforts should be "clearly restricted by law, proportionate to the risks, transparent and subject to independent oversight".
The scandal has outraged human rights groups and shaken US relations with some countries, including long-standing ally Germany.
NSA and other security officials say the data collection is crucial in the fight against terrorism and has helped thwart plots.
But the Obama administration has promised a review of NSA practices.
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