Tech companies seek to improve privacy protection




More than 20 US technology companies, including Facebook, Amazon, Google Alibab, Cisco, Twitter, Ober, Yahoo and Snape, pressed Congress on Friday to make changes to the broader Internet censorship law

The request is the first big effort by Silicon Valley companies to find out what is expected to be a controversial debate later this year on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, parts of which will expire on December 31 unless Congress reinstates those parts.

Section 702 raises the concerns of technology industry and privacy advocates, which allows US intelligence agencies to get huge amounts of foreign contacts and collect some of the data from Americans that analysts can search without warrants.

“We are writing to express our support for the reforms of Section 702, which will continue to benefit the American intelligence community while further protecting the privacy of the program and transparency,” the companies wrote in a letter to Bob Goodloth, Republican President of the Judicial Committee of the United States House of Representatives.

Section 702 is a vital tool of US intelligence officials and is estimated to be responsible for a quarter of the surveillance conducted by the US National Security Agency, but defenders of privacy protection and civil liberties have long been targeted on a very wide scale and lack adequate safeguards.

The leaks by former contractor Edward Snowden in 2013 revealed the true nature of the surveillance under Section 702, which has embarrassed some US technology companies, and in their letter to lawmakers asked companies to end this type of national security surveillance.

Companies said lawmakers should seek judicial review of government inquiries about the data gathered under Section 702, which concerns US communications and narrowing the definition of “foreign intelligence information” to reduce data collection for foreigners suspected of wrongdoing.

The letter asks for more information on how companies are allowed to disclose the number of requests for surveillance and to declassify applications approved by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. Legislation currently being drafted by a group of lawmakers in the Judicial Committee of the House of Representatives is expected to address all addresses Raised in the letter of technology companies.


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