Tech companies to U.S.: Reform surveillance practices



QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:56 AM ET

Eight of the world's biggest tech companies sent an open letter to the U.S. government about the "urgent" need to reform its surveillance practices and warned they will be "pushing back" against government requests for information.

AOL, Apple, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Twitter and Yahoo on Monday jointly wrote a letter to President Barack Obama and the U.S. Congress.

"The security of users' data is critical...This is undermined by the apparent wholesale collection of data, in secret and without independent oversight, by many governments around the world," Google CEO Larry Page said in a statement.

The group urges lawmakers to adopt "sensible limitations on their ability to compel service providers to disclose user data" and make sure their methods are transparent and accountable.

"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," the letter says.

"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 favour of the state and away from the rights of the individual."

This summer, the massive scope of U.S. surveillance around the world was revealed when National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden released top-secret documents.

The companies that issued the letter have faced criticism over their own handling of user information.