Apple Inc., Facebook Inc., Google Inc., Microsoft Corp., Yahoo! Inc., and more than a dozen other tech companies have joined forces with civil liberties groups and investment firms in a push to uncloak U.S. government surveillance efforts, following leaks last month about National Security Agency data gathering.
In a letter [PDF] sent Thursday to President Barack Obama and other U.S. officials, the 64-member coalition wrote that the government should permit Internet, telephone, and web-based service providers to publicly report statistics about national security-related requests. The alliance, organized by the Washington-based nonprofit Center for Democracy & Technology, said details about the extent to which the government deploys its national security powers is important to U.S. citizens and international users of U.S.-based digital service providers as they try to assess the utilization of online surveillance.
"Just as the United States has long been an innovator when it comes to the Internet and products and services that rely upon the Internet, so too should it be an innovator when it comes to creating mechanisms to ensure that government is transparent, accountable, and respectful of civil liberties and human rights," the coalition wrote. "We look forward to working with you to set a standard for transparency reporting that can serve as a positive example for governments across the globe."