Facebook, Apple, Google push US government to back privacy reform

Bosses of world's biggest tech companies join together to oppose NSA data collection

Representatives of the world’s tech giants have urged US politicians to put a stop to the National Security Agency's collection of data, and to allow them to be more transparent about government requests for information.

Senators will vote on the USA Freedom Act, which brings to an end many of the most worrying practices revealed in Edward Snowden’s leaks, on November 18. Reform Government Surveillance has urged senators to back the bill, and is supported by AOL’s chief executive Tim Armstrong,  Google’s CEO Larry Page and Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg.

“We urge you to pass the bill, ‪which both protects national security and reaffirms America’s commitment to the freedoms we all cherish,” the coalition writes in the open letter.

The legislation prevents the bulk collection of internet metadata. It also allows companies to release more information about what government is demanding that technology companies tell them about their users.

Those two parts of the act are in line with criticisms that the coalition made of the bill in an earlier version. Many interest groups backed the bill when it was initially proposed, though some took back that support after changes in the definitions used in the law.

The letter is signed by representatives of AOL, Apple, Dropbox, Evernote, Facebook, Google, Linkedin, Microsoft, Twitter and Yahoo.

The USA FREEDOM Act was introduced on October 29, 2013, in response to the revelations from whistleblower Edward Snowden about collection of data by the National Security Agency and other US bodies.

The full name of the bill is Uniting and Strengthening America by Fulfilling Rights and Ending Eavesdropping, Dragnet-Collection and Online Monitoring Act.