Tech companies urge transparency amid NSA cloud of fear

Rare –

Silicon Valley called on Congress this week to mandate greater transparency from the NSA after being swept up in multiple allegations of ethically questionable surveillance since summer, while agency chief Gen. Keith Alexander seeded a cloud of fear over such changes.

Tech giants Apple, Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Yahoo and AOL sent a letter to members of the House and Senate Judiciary Committees Thursday asking for permission to make public the surveillance information requests they receive from the government, and emphasized the need for greater transparency and oversight reform for agencies like the NSA.

“Transparency is a critical first step to an informed public debate, but it is clear that more needs to be done. Our companies believe that government surveillance practices should also be reformed to include substantial enhancements to privacy protections and appropriate oversight and accountability mechanisms for those programs,” the letter said.

The letter coincided with a week of testimony before the House Intelligence Committee by NSA Director General Keith Alexander and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. Representatives equally questioned and chastised the two over the latest NSA surveillance revelations of tapping German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cellphone, and the collection of European’s phone data.

The breach of privacy and international trust finally pushed Congress and the White House to call for a full review of the agency’s programs, “to make sure that what they’re able to do doesn’t necessarily mean what they should be doing,” the president said earlier this week.

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