One of the biggest problems with the US government’s PRISM information gathering program, is that it forbids many of the companies involved from being open about what information has been shared – making it hard for anyone to know exactly what data has been collected about them. Yesterday though, many of the biggest companies and a handful of non-profit organisations sent a letter to the president, asking him to grant them the ability to tell their side of the story.
The firms, which included Facebook, Apple, Google, LinkedIn, Yahoo, Microsoft, Twitter and a whole host of others, sent the correspondance to not only the president himself, but also to the attorney general, Eric Holder, director of the NSA, General Keith Alexander and the National Intelligence director, James Clapper.
At the time of writing, none of those contacted have released an official response on the matter.
Most, if not all of the surveillance that has been conducted by the government organisations and these subsidiary tech firms, has been covered legally, by the Patriot act (for meta data) and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (for content) which president Obama helped extend last year – so there is no way he could claim to have little knowledge of the information gathering/sharing, in an attempt to save face with the angry public.
A few of the companies have released some information, with Apple, Facebook and Google all showing to some extent how the data snooping works, but it’s the ins and outs that everyone wants to see.
“This information about how and how often the government is using these legal authorities is important to the American people, who are entitled to have an informed public debate about the appropriateness of those authorities and their use, and to international users of U.S.-based service providers who are concerned about the privacy and security of their communications,” the letter reads (via Reuters).
It also goes on to ask the senate to pass laws that force the government to be more transparent about its domestic and international information gathering.
Kitguru Says: I can’t see much coming from this, but it’s good to see some muscle is getting behind the anti-snooping movement. However if this letter doesn’t work, there are several court cases pending against the US government, which stand a chance of at least making a big splash, if not achieving some real legal springboards for lasting change.