AOL, Apple, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Twitter and
Yahoo have issued an open letter to Washington calling on
politicians to reform government surveillance worldwide.
The organizations have outlined five principles that they
believe encapsulate and are consistent with "global norms
of free expression and privacy" and "the goals of
ensuring that government law enforcement and intelligence efforts
are rule-bound, narrowly tailored, transparent, and subject to
The principles are:
1. Limiting Governments' Authority to Collect
Users' Information. No bulk downloads of information.
Codification of limitations on the ability to compel service
providers to disclose data. Limiting surveillance to specific,
known users for lawful purposes.
2. Oversight and Accountability. Executive
powers to be subject to strong checks and balances and subject to
review by independent courts and an adversarial process. Rulings of
law should be made public in a timely manner.
3. Transparency About Government Demands.
Companies should be able to publish the number
and nature of government demands and governments should
do so as well.
4. Respecting the Free Flow of Information.
Data flow across borders should not be inhibited and service
providers should not be required to locate infrastructure within a
5. Avoiding Conflicts Among Governments. Mutual
legal assistance treaties to permit obtaining data across borders
should be robust, principled and transparent
and governments should resolve conflicts between their
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