In October, the tech industry's biggest companies petitioned Congress to reform the US government's surveillance policies. Now, the firms are taking their pleas global. Microsoft, Apple, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Twitter, Yahoo and AOL (Engadget's parent company) have banded together to ask the world's governments to reassess its intelligence practices. This time, however, the firms are presenting more than a strongly worded letter -- they've laid out five core reform principles, detailed both on an official website and in full-page ads in national publications.
The breakdown is fairly straightforward; the group asks that government's authority be imposed with "sensible limitations on their ability to compel service providers to disclose user data," and that they give more consideration to the link between privacy and trust required by technology providers and their users. The group is also demanding increased oversight, accountability and transparency, outlining a system that allows companies to publish the nature and frequency of user information requests and attached to a "clear legal framework" with "strong checks and balances." Governments outside of the US are encouraged to work together too, to create a "robust, principled and transparent framework" to guide requests for data across jurisdictions. The group of tech giants also wants these changes to respect the flow of information, and ensure that service providers are able to build infrastructure on a global scale, without needing to store data inside the country for the sake of national government inquiries.
"Unchecked, undisclosed government surveillance inhibits the free flow of information." Twitter CEO Dick Costolo writes on the movement's website. "The principles we advance today would reform the current system to appropriately balance the needs of security and privacy while safeguarding the essential human right of free expression."