TECH
09/12/2013 07:10 GMT | Updated 09/12/2013 09:08 GMT

Tech Companies Demand New Internet Surveillance Laws In Rare Show Of Unity

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You know it's serious when the normally insanely competitive tech giants club together on something.

Eight of the world's biggest are demanding sweeping changes to US surveillance laws in the wake of the NSA spying revelations.

AOL, Twitter, Yahoo, Microsoft, Facebook, Google, Apple and LinkedIn have all signed an open letter to Barack Obama and Congress.

In it they demand new legal limits and increased oversight of government surveillance operations.

Leading figures in the tech industry argue the revelations leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden damaged public faith in the internet.

Brad Smith, general counsel at Microsoft, said: "People won’t use technology they don’t trust. Governments have put this trust at risk, and governments need to help restore it."

Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, said there was a need for"real need for greater disclosure and new limits on how governments collect information".

The NSA scandal crossed the Atlantic when it was revealed the British government's listening post, GCHQ, had also snooped on people.

David Cameron insisted the programmes were designed to protect the public.

The full letter reads:

"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 balance in many countries has tipped too far in favour 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 change.

"For our part, we are focused on keeping users' data secure, deploying the latest encryption technology to prevent unauthorized surveillance on our networks, and by pushing back on government requests to ensure that they are legal and reasonable in scope.

"We urge the U.S. 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."

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