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Reform Government Surveillance Coalition Submits Open Letter to Senate
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USA Freedom Act, Google, Apple, Twitter

Summary: A new bill, the USA Freedom Act, is scheduled for a vote in the Senate on Tuesday of this week. 

The Reform Government Surveillance coalition, which consists of Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter and Apple, is working to curb the United States National Security Agency’s surveillance powers, according to The Guardian.


The group is also looking for more transparency when it comes to government data requests. The coalition has joined in the support for a bill in the United States Senate that they want passed before the end of this year. The bill, if made into law, would limit the mass amount of data collection from internet metadata and emails.

To read more about the NSA, click here.

“The Senate has an opportunity this week to vote on the bipartisan USA Freedom Act,” said the coalition in an open letter submitted to the Senate. “We urge you to pass the bill, which both protects national security and reaffirms America’s commitment to the freedoms we all cherish.”

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As part of the improved transparency, the bill would permit technology companies to disclose the number of types of data demands made by the government.

If the USA Freedom Act does not pass the Senate before the end of 2014, the process will need to start from scratch in January.

The bill passed the House of Representatives back in May. Senate majority leader Harry Reid filed a procedural motion to have the bill heard in the Senate.

The vote in the Senate will take place on Tuesday and will include debates on amendments to the bill.

To read more about Harry Reid, click here.

The chief executive of the Consumer Electronics Association, Gary Shapiro, wrote an open letter that supports the bill.

Shapiro wrote: “American technology companies have been hurt by reaction to the revelation of the US government’s bulk data collection Many companies have lost business, or face laws designed to restrict data flows, due to foreign governments’ fear that the US government can reach company-managed data at will.”

“Several companies, including members of CEA, have already lost contracts with foreign governments worth millions of dollars. Further, several governments may now limit the free flow of data across borders, damaging the utility and functionality of the internet,” he wrote.

In the open letter sent to the Senate from the Reform Government Surveillance coalition, the following was written:

“We will continue to work with Congress, the Administration, civil liberties groups and governments around the world to advance essential reforms that we set forth in a set of principles last year. Such reforms include: preventing government access to data without proper legal process; assuring that providers are not required to locate infrastructure within a country’s border; promoting the free flow of data across borders; and avoiding conflicts among nations through robust, principled, and transparent frameworks that govern lawful requests for data across jurisdictions.” 

To read more stories about Google, click here.

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Image credit: Google



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