Microsoft and Google Lead Plan to Reform Government Surveillance


News Room Contributor
Apr 18, 2011
Microsoft and Google Lead Plan to Reform Government Surveillance

After new reports of government surveillance of consumers, tech companies are stepping up to call for new limits on spying.

As discovered yesterday [], if you're played an MMO, the US government has its eyes on you. The government has been monitoring tech companies' customers' data for quite a while, but eight companies, led by Microsoft and Google, have joined together to urge reform.

Beginning with full-page ads in national newspapers, the eight companies - AOL, Apple, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Twitter, and Yahoo - have set up a website [] for global government surveillance reform. On the website is an open letter to President Obama and Congress:

Dear Mr. President and Members of Congress,

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 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.
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 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. To see the full set of principles we support, visit

AOL, Apple, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Twitter, Yahoo

The eight companies list five principles to their call for reform: 1) limiting governments' authority to collect users' information, 2) oversight and accountability, 3) transparency about government demands, 4) respecting the free flow of information, and 5) avoiding conflicts among governments.

Telecom companies were not included, and they have had a much stronger relationship with the US government. That isn't to say that the eight tech companies included in the proposal haven't cooperated with requests for data. The proposal doesn't go unappreciated, though. These tech giants have billionaire founders who are sought after in politics as donors. The government would be wise not to push the tech industry and consumers away.

Source: New York Times []



New member
Jun 5, 2012
This is a PR stunt. These companies were working alongside the government agencies this whole time. They are embarrassed and are just trying to save face and gain trust again.


New member
Mar 26, 2011
Uh oh! I think forgot to sign!
I really hope I'm not the only one who find this sickeningly ironic. Yes, the big companies that violate some pretty basic rights to privacy are now angry and upset that the government is doing it too. At least the government isn't selling the information for profit guys.

Ed130 The Vanguard

(Insert witty quote here)
Sep 10, 2008

I guess this is another case for the verbal social services alongside Electronic Arts.

So when a government listens in to private conversations to 'ahem' fight terrorism that is bad, but when a corporation want to listen in as well in order to sell that information or use it to sell you crap is perfectly a-ok?


Apr 28, 2008
Lol, they're still collecting your data. Besides, none of it really matters.
Do you not think that NSA and GCHQ share data when convenient?

So sure, let's say this happens and the NSA won't spy on American citizens, just everyone else in the world. The GCHQ will and just share their data on Americans with the NSA; possibly for profit. Feel better now?


New member
May 2, 2011
It's a pretty fucking meaningless PR stunt.

Are we all just going to forget that these corporations were feeding NSA pretty much anything they wanted. Microsoft even built backdoors specially into their pc's for them.

Also, it doesn't matter how much "security" you put in your sites, NSA requires you by law to give them information. Secure email services like Lavabit actually tried to give you true anonymity and they were shut down for their troubles.

As Weaver says above me, the way they get around jurisdictions and such is by spying on everyone else and then trading that information with each other. UK can't spy on it's own citizens by law but NSA totally can, and they do. So the UK spies on America, America spies on UK and so forth.

Look up "The Five Eyes" program for more:


New member
Mar 9, 2009
I doubt I'm the only one that finds it funny that those particular companies are leading this.

"Stop monitoring the general population, government, we were doing it first!"


New member
Dec 25, 2010
Making clubs and sending letters to the Pres. are all good but I want to see some actual action. Why don't you guys put your extensive collection of lobbyist's to good use?

Smooth Operator

New member
Oct 5, 2010
Coming from the guys who collect and sell all data they can get on you...
I guess it's better then nothing, but they certainly wouldn't be my first choice.