Tech Companies Issue Loud Call For Surveillance Transparency

NPR icon by Elise Hu
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Sergei Supinsky

Apple, Google, Microsoft and a broad coalition of major tech companies are making a loud call for greater government disclosure of digital communications monitoring.

In a letter out today, an alliance of 63 companies and groups are calling for dramatically increased transparency around U.S. government surveillance efforts. This comes as the companies — and individual Americans — continue to grapple with recent revelations of a sweeping surveillance program led by the National Security Agency.

(Read the full letter.)

The alliance, which also includes investors and trade organizations — asks for Internet and communications service providers to report national security-related requests with specificity.

In the letter addressed to President Obama, National Intelligence Director James Clapper, Attorney General Eric Holder and congressional leaders, they've asked to regularly report:

• The number of government requests for information about their users.

• The number of individuals, accounts or devices for which information was requested.

• And the number of requests that sought communications content, basic subscriber information and/or other information.

The coalition also asks that the government begin issuing a transparency report of its own, and in it, provide similar information — the total number of requests made and the number of individuals affected by each.

You may notice that no hosting providers like Amazon Web Services or Go Daddy have co-signed the letter. Also absent are payment processors like Visa and Mastercard. We're reaching out to these companies and will update with their input.

Click to read the full letter.

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