Tech Companies, Privacy Advocates Back Surveillance Transparency Legislation

On September 30, TCP joined a broad coalition of Internet companies and advocates for free speech and privacy rights in supporting two bills that substantially increase transparency of government surveillance of the Internet.  In a letter delivered to the leaders of the US Senate and House Judiciary Committees, the coalition expressed strong support for Senator Al Franken’s Surveillance Transparency Act of 2013 (S. 1452) and Representative Zoe Lofgren’s Surveillance Order Reporting Act of 2013 (H.R. 3035), each of which would clarify that companies have the right to publish basic statistics about the government demands for user data that they receive—including demands under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

According to those signing the letter, “such transparency is important not only for the American people, who are entitled to have an informed public debate about the appropriateness of that surveillance, but also for international users of U.S.-based service providers who are concerned about privacy and security.”

In addition to TCP, signatories include Apple, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Twitter and Yahoo, as well as the American Civil Liberties Union, Americans for Tax Reform, the Center for Democracy and Technology, the Competitive Enterprise Institute and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.  The letter asks the committee leaders to hold hearings on the transparency issue and quickly move the bills forward.

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