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Google, Yahoo, Facebook, Microsoft Urge ‘Greater Transparency’ in PRISM Letter

July 23, 2013
 

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Several high-profile technology companies have co-signed a letter that asks President Obama for permission to report on PRISM data requests.

Firms including Google, Yahoo, Facebook, Microsoft, Mozilla, Apple, and Reddit have put their names to the letter, and Yahoo has provided a copy of the letter (PDF). Yahoo general counsel Ron Bell called it a “call to action.”

“Democracy demands accountability, and accountability requires transparency,” he said. “Today, we are proud to join dozens of our partners across the tech industry, civil society organizations, and trade associations to urge greater transparency by the U.S. government regarding national security demands for our users’ information.”

The letter was also addressed to Attorney General Eric Holder and Senate majority leader Harry Reid, among others.

It asked that the government release its own transparency reports that show the number of individuals targeted and the number of accounts and devices covered. Supporting this would be more detailed transparency reports from the companies involved.

“Basic information about how the government uses its various law enforcement related investigative authorities has been published for years without any apparent disruption to criminal investigations. We seek permission for the same information to be made available regarding the government’s national security related authorities,” added the letter.

“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.”

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