Apple, Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo, LinkedIn, and AOL. These companies might indeed be “bitter rivals in some cases,” but as a recent report explains, the eight technology giants have joined forces in an attempt to secure a reform to the U.S. government’s surveillance activities.

The news comes in a recent report from The Wall Street Journal, and follows a handful of disclosures concerning the actions of the United States’ National Security Agency (NSA). As the article explains, the companies have published an open letter to President Obama and members of Congress not only advising a reform to U.S. government surveillance, but also providing “a set of reform principles to better safeguard the information of Internet users.”

The Wall Street Journal explains:

A shorter version of the open letter is appearing in full-page ads in the Monday editions of several print publications, including The New York Times and several D.C.-focused newspapers, including the Washington Post, Politico, Roll Call and The Hill.

The advertisement reads: “This summer’s revelations highlighted the urgent need to reform government surveillance practices worldwide. The balance in many countries has tipped too far in favor of the state and away from the rights of the individual­­ – rights that are enshrined in our Constitution.”

Furthermore, a website has been co-launched by the eight companies, reformgovernmentsurveillance.com, and here the open letter, which we've included below, is provided in full.

After concerns surrounding iPhone surveillance first hit the Web, Apple immediately denied “helping the U.S. government to spy on us,” as a further report of ours explained.

The Cupertino, Calif. company published an open letter to Mac and iDevice users concerning its commitment to customer privacy, and along with a bunch of other companies, Apple then first called for reforms to the NSA's surveillance actions.

Below, you can take a look at the latest government appeal in full; it calls for the surveillance of known threats only, and for “more independent national security oversight,” as the publication adds.

An open letter to Washington

Dear Mr. President and Members of Congress,

We understand that governments have a duty to protect their citizens. But this summer’s revelations highlighted the urgent need to reform government surveillance practices worldwide. The balance in many countries has tipped too far in favor of the state and away from the rights of the individual — rights that are enshrined in our Constitution. This undermines the freedoms we all cherish. It’s time for a change.

For our part, we are focused on keeping users’ data secure — deploying the latest encryption technology to prevent unauthorized surveillance on our networks and by pushing back on government requests to ensure that they are legal and reasonable in scope.

We urge the US to take the lead and make reforms that ensure that government surveillance efforts are clearly restricted by law, proportionate to the risks, transparent and subject to independent oversight. To see the full set of principles we support, visit ReformGovernmentSurveillance.com

Sincerely,

AOL, Apple, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Twitter, Yahoo

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