What's big enough to bring together such competitors as Google and Yahoo, Microsoft and Apple, Facebook and Twitter, plus AOL and LinkedIn for good measure? The NSA spying drama. Those companies are publicly asking the world's governments to limit such spying, and have detailed their ideas on a website, Reform Government Surveillance, as well as in an open letter to President Obama and Congress published as a full-page ad in national newspapers. It's the biggest push from the tech industry thus far, the New York Times reports, noting that the industry is fairly powerful in Washington. The group wants international changes, but expects the US to lead the way, the Guardian reports.
"The NSA mass-surveillance programs exist for a simple reason: cooperation with the tech and telecom companies," says an Electronic Frontier Foundation activist. "If the tech companies no longer want to cooperate, they have a lot of leverage to force significant reform." Today, they've outlined five "reform principles" to that end. Among them: They want governments to limit surveillance to specific users rather than performing sweeping data collection, for there to be limits on when Internet companies can be compelled to give up data, and for more oversight and transparency to be implemented. (See all five here.) The Obama administration has already called for a review of NSA procedures, and could get its results this week.