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US tech firms call for privacy review

Online titans send open letter to Obama, Congress calling for reform on surveillance rules

US tech firms call for privacy review
The collective has voiced concerns on the practice of information gathering within the US intelligence community.

Eight US technology firms have mounted a collective campaign to place limits on how governments can collect online information, Reuters reported.

The move comes at a time when the US government has been sharply criticised for data gathering exercises conducted by security agencies. Ex-National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, in his disclosure of security documents to media outlets, alleged that an operation called Prism had included the targeting of information on the servers of several Web giants.

The companies involved in the joint campaign are Google Inc, Microsoft Corp, Apple Inc, Facebook Inc, Twitter, LinkedIn Corp, Yahoo Inc and AOL Inc.

Early reports on Prism suggested nine companies were forced by security agencies to take part starting with Microsoft in 2007 and Yahoo in 2008. Others include Apple, AOL, PalTalk, Google-owned YouTube and Microsoft-owned Skype. Following Snowden's disclosures, companies made efforts to clarify their roles in Prism and distance themselves from the actions of authorities.

In today's action the group issued an open letter to US President Barack Obama and the US Congress urging the enactment of restrictions on surveillance. The letter recognised the need for national security, but highlighted a number of concerns, including the transparency of government requests.

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