Sometime last night, a letter to the President of the United States and Congress was published on the Internet. It was signed by eight of the largest Internet companies; Apple, AOL, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Twitter, and Yahoo!
The website where the letter is hosted outlines five principles for government surveiilance:
1) sensible limitations on government's ability to compel service providers to disclose user data
2) checks and balances, including court oversight
3) transparency about government demands
4) letting information flow freely, particularly across national boundries
5) cooperation between governments to create multi-national treaties
I wholeheartedly support these five goals. These issues do not only impact large Internet companies. They impact all Internet companies. When you get a National Security Letter, you have no choice but to comply, even if it violates everything you and your company stand for.
It is time for governments around the world to rethink how they go about spying on us, particularly with the help of companies, both large and small.