US urged to over­haul sur­veil­lance laws

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - WORLD - By AGEN­CIES in Lon­don and Wash­ing­ton AFP— AP

Eight lead­ing tech­nol­ogy com­pa­nies on Mon­day called on the United States to over­haul its sur­veil­lance laws to bet­ter bal­ance the needs of se­cu­rity and in­di­vid­ual rights, in the wake of the NSA whistle­blower Ed­ward Snow­den leaks.

In an open let­ter to US Pres­i­dent Barack Obama and the US Congress, AOL, Ap­ple, Face­book, Google, LinkedIn, Mi­crosoft, Twit­ter and Ya­hoo said Wash­ing­ton should lead the way in a world­wide re­form of state-spon­sored spy­ing.

“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 let­ter said.

“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 a change.”

They added: “We urge the US to take the lead and make re­forms that en­sure that gov­ern­ment sur­veil­lance ef­forts are clearly re­stricted by law, pro­por­tion­ate to the risks, trans­par­ent and sub­ject to in­de­pen­dent over­sight.”

Since June, news­pa­pers across the world have re­vealed the wide scope of gov­ern­ment spy­ing by pub­lish­ing clas­si­fied doc­u­ments leaked by Snow­den, a for­mer US Na­tional Se­cu­rity Agency an­a­lyst now on the run in Rus­sia.

Ear­lier, the NSA on Fri­day said its track­ing of cell­phones over­seas is legally au­tho­rized un­der a sweep­ing US pres­i­den­tial or­der. The dis­tinc­tion means the ex­tra­or­di­nary sur­veil­lance pro­gram is not over­seen by a se­cre­tive US in­tel­li­gence court but is reg­u­lated by some US law­mak­ers, Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion in­sid­ers and in­spec­tor-gen­er­als.

Doc­u­ments ob­tained from Snow­den showed that the NSA gath­ers as many as 5 bil­lion records ev­ery day about the lo­ca­tion data for hun­dreds of mil­lions of cell­phones world­wide by tap­ping into ca­bles that carry in­ter­na­tional cell­phone traf­fic. The Wash­ing­ton Post said the col­lec­tion in­ad­ver­tently scoops up an un­known amount of US data as well.

The NSA said on Fri­day it was not track­ing ev­ery for­eign phone call and said it takes mea­sures to limit how much US data is col­lected. The NSA has de­clined to pro­vide any es­ti­mates about the num­ber of Amer­i­cans whose cell­phones it has tracked be­cause they were trav­el­ing over­seas or their data was ir­re­vo­ca­bly in­cluded in in­for­ma­tion about for­eign­ers’ cell­phones.

“It is not ubiq­ui­tous,” NSA spokes­woman Va­nee Vines said. “NSA does not know and can­not track the lo­ca­tion of ev­ery cell­phone.”

Vines said the col­lec­tion of the global cell­phone lo­ca­tion data is car­ried out un­der the White House or­der that gov­erns all US es­pi­onage, known as Ex­ec­u­tive Or­der 12333. That means con­gres­sional com­mit­tees and rel­e­vant in­spec­tor-gen­er­als can over­see the pro­gram, but the se­cret court es­tab­lished un­der the For­eign In­tel­li­gence Sur­veil­lance Act would not.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from China

© PressReader. All rights reserved.