Facebook and seven other major tech companies, including Google, Apple and Twitter, sent an open letter to lawmakers in Washington this week calling for a reform of the government surveillance program revealed to the public this summer after rogue NSA employee Edward Snowden leaked confidential documents.
“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 companies wrote. “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 change.”
The scandal this summer revealed that Facebook and other tech companies were being forced by the government to hand over user information, though just how complicit they were remains unknown. Facebook has pressured the government for permission to reveal how much and what kind of information they turned over to the NSA, but they have thus far been rebuked.
“Reports about government surveillance have shown there is a real need for greater disclosure and new limits on how governments collect information,” Mark Zuckerberg said this week on a website launched by the eight-company coalition. “The U.S. government should take this opportunity to lead this reform effort and make things right.”
The considerable strength and financial depth of these companies may be able to influence lawmakers, though it remains as unclear as ever what the final ramifications will be from the government’s spy scandal.