Why Apple, Microsoft and others reject NSA spying

spy
Credit: Thomas Tolkien

Why current state surveillance is bad for the technology business.

Unfettered surveillance is poison to future technology and could damage some of America’s biggest brands — in its present form you could almost call it anti-American.

Privacy

That’s the subtext to the latest salvo in the post-Snowden privacy wars, as Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, Twitter and others join forces to demand governments worldwide to “address the practices and laws regulating government surveillance of individuals and access to their information”.

Writing on the Reform Government Surveillance website, the firms stress governments must act to protect the safety and security of citizens.

Consistent with established global norms of free expression and privacy and with the goals of ensuring that government law enforcement and intelligence efforts are rule-bound, narrowly tailored, transparent, and subject to oversight, we hereby call on governments to endorse the following principle….

Propositions

The group makes five proposals for how to protect us from the spectre of out of control surveillance:

  • Limiting surveillance activity
  • Clear oversight
  • Transparency
  • Respect for the free flow of information
  • Harmonization between governments

These aren't just fine sounding statements in support of security and privacy, of course.

All these firms recognize that the perception surveillance is out of control threatens the future of their industry in the digital age. They understand that trust and privacy are essential to what they sell --from BYOD to corporate cloud services, from iBeacon to high street retail. Because the division between the online and physical worlds is fading.

Personal

It is essential to the tech industry evolution that users are happy to permit the collection of huge quantities of data. Right now tech firms to a greater or lesser extent are able to learn:

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