Major technology and internet firms including Google, Apple, Facebook and Twitter have joined together to lobby the US Senate to restrict computer- and communications-based surveillance by the National Security Agency (NSA).
The coalition of companies, known collectively as “Reform Government Surveillance”, has penned an open later to voice support of the US Freedom Act, which is scheduled to be voted on later this week.
The letter comes shortly after Germany and Brazil proposed a UN resolution re-write to condemn the “highly intrusive act” of NSA surveillance.
If passed successfully, the bill would inhibit the ability of government agencies to collect data on web browsing habits, email communications and other metadata – practices revealed by NSA whistle blower Edward Snowden. The bill would also enable tech and internet firms to more transparently reveal the number and types of requests for data the government makes.
“The Senate has an opportunity this week to vote on the bipartisan USA Freedom Act. We urge you to pass the bill, which both protects national security and reaffirms America’s commitment to the freedoms we all cherish,” said the letter, which urges transparency over government demands for information.
“Since forming the Reform Government Surveillance coalition last year, our companies have continued to invest in strengthening the security of our services and increasing transparency,” the letter continues. “Now, the Senate has the opportunity to send a strong message of change to the world and encourage other countries to adopt similar protections.”
However, even if the bill is passed, the technology firms said that work on internet surveillance and civil liberties is far from complete.
“Passing the USA Freedom Act, however, does not mean our work is finished. 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,” said the letter.
“Now is the time to move forward on meaningful change to our surveillance programs. We encourage you to support the USA Freedom Act,” it concluded.
The USA Freedom Act Final Letter was signed by 10 firms: AOL, Apple, Dropbox, Evernote, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Twitter and Yahoo.
However, Snowden himself has previously criticised many of the letter’s signatories. The NSA surveillance whistle blower has warned that web giants Google and Facebook are compromising people’s privacy, describing them as “dangerous services”.
Snowden has also previously condemned Dropbox, describing the cloud storage service as “hostile to privacy” and a “wannabe” collaborator in the US government’s PRISM snooping programme.