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Google, Apple, Facebook and friends call for US surveillance reform

A host of US technology companies have called on the government to put a stop to mass communications surveillance.

The group, which includes Google, Microsoft, Apple, Facebook, Twitter, and others, make up the Reform Government Surveillance coalition.

This coalition has teamed up with civil rights groups and trade associations to pressure Congress into reforming the government’s bulk surveillance of communications metadata.

A letter, addressed to US President Barack Obama, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and NSA director Admiral Michael Rogers, amongst others, demands greater transparency and accountability regarding surveillance programs.

Other members of the Reform Government Surveillance coalition include AOL, Dropbox, Evernote, LinkedIn and Yahoo – all of which supported the letter.

The calls come ahead of the expiry of Section 215 of the US’s Patriot Act in May. Section 215 is a piece of legislation that the US government uses to justify bulk surveillance of comms metadata.

We have a responsibility to protect the privacy and security of our users’ data,” said David Drummond, Google’s Chief Legal Officer. “At the same time, we want to do our part to help governments keep people safe.”

“We have little doubt that Congress can protect both national security and privacy while taking a significant, concrete step toward restoring trust in the internet.”

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Concerns over US government surveillance became widespread after NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed a host of questionable snooping programs back in June 2013.

Since then, technology companies, rights groups, and the public have called on the US government to be more open about the ways in which it gathers security intelligence.

Google has been working hard for the last two years to reform government surveillance laws,” continued Drummond.

“We will continue to push for broader surveillance reforms in the months ahead.”

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