In an open letter to Washington, eight major technology companies are calling for sweeping changes in the way the U.S. government collects information on citizens.
The letter was signed by AOL Inc., Apple Inc., Facebook Inc., Google Inc., LinkedIn Corp., Microsoft Corp., Twitter Inc. and Yahoo! Inc. In documents leaked by former defense contractor Edward Snowden, most of these companies have been listed as being among the targets where the U.S. government is extracting digital information as part of a massive surveillance effort.
"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 companies say in the letter to President Obama and members of Congress. "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 change."