Earlier today, ServInt signed on to a letter, spearheaded by the Center for Democracy & Technology, that was sent to leaders in the U.S. House and Senate. The letter urged reform of U.S. surveillance practices “by limiting the scope of surveillance and by substantially enhancing…privacy protections, oversight, and accountability mechanisms” — specifically through the enactment of the USA FREEDOM Act, about which we’ve written here before.
Following is a transcript of the letter. Please take a moment to look it over — then contact your elected representatives to urge them to support it. If you’re looking for the Reader’s Digest version of what’s at stake here, it boils down to this: the USA FREEDOM Act would close a wide range of loopholes in previous homeland security-related legislation that make it easy for the government to gain access to your e-mail, data, and other private information, without warrants or the protection of other elements of basic due process. Here’s the letter:
We the undersigned civil society groups, trade associations, companies and investors are supporters of the free and open Internet. We are writing to urge that intelligence surveillance practices be reformed by limiting the scope of surveillance and by substantially enhancing the privacy protections, oversight, and accountability mechanisms that govern that surveillance.
Recent disclosures regarding intelligence surveillance activity raise important concerns about the privacy and security of communications. This surveillance has already eroded trust that is essential to the free flow of information and to the exercise of human rights and civil liberties both in the United States and around the world.
To rebuild trust, we urge that the U.S. government act expeditiously to:
- allow companies to be much more transparent about the number and type of surveillance demands they receive;
- be much more transparent itself about the surveillance demands it makes, the surveillance activities in which it engages, and the legal bases for both;
- focus intelligence collection on terrorists, spies and other agents of foreign powers, rather than on everyone else; and
- ensure that its surveillance practices honor both Constitutional and human rights.
Toward this end, we welcome introduction in the House and Senate of the USA FREEDOM Act – legislation which promotes these goals. We oppose legislation that codifies sweeping bulk collection activities. We look forward to working with you on the USA FREEDOM Act and other legislation designed to protect the privacy of Internet users while permitting appropriately targeted intelligence surveillance necessary to protect against terrorism.
Photo credit: Rob Shenk