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Apple, Google and host of other tech companies sign letter asking for greater transparency regarding government surveillance

The White House Northside

Apple and a host of other tech companies, including Google, Microsoft, Facebook and Reddit, have all signed their name to a letter expressing support for proposed bills that would enable them to reveal more details about government requests for information.

The bills in question include the Surveillance Transparency Act of 2013 and the Surveillance Order Reporting act of 2013. Both bills would allow companies to release to the public statistical information about secretive government requests made to "Internet, telephone, and web-based service providers for information about their users and subscribers."

The letter, which also has support from a wide array of non-profit and trade organizations, reads in part:

Similarly, as we had previously requested, the House bill provides for reporting by companies on their receipt of National Security Letters (NSLs) as well as requests under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), and we would strongly support inclusion of a similar provision regarding NSLs in the Senate bill, consistent with Chairman Leahy's longstanding and much appreciated support for NSL reform.

In conclusion, we are eager to assist your Committees in taking prompt action around these critically important bills, and to share our views as other bills are introduced or move through the Committees. We look forward to working together to achieve passage of legislation that will ensure the level of transparency necessary to appropriately inform the American public and preserve the trust of Internet users around the world.

The letter was delivered by The Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT) with the CDT noting that the letter submission comes on the same day that the US DOJ plans to oppose motions from Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, Facebook and Linkedin who all argue that releasing statistical information pertaining to government requests is protected under the First Amendment.

The CDT letter can be read in its entirety over here.

This past July, Apple was also part of a consortium of 62 companies demanding greater transparency regarding NSA surveillance efforts.

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