Internet Giants Push Back at Obama in Open Letter


The first site in which I have seen this letter is Human Rights Watch, so it is linked there. As one might expect, it is an exercise in delicacy, but with significant direct, indirect, and symbolic meanings. How much of it is sincere and how much is “CYA” is an open question for each of the numerous signers.

It happens to put any who have demurred from signing it “on the spot,” as well and one may be confident it all gives meat to the press, for follow-up (if the press still does that, at least at times when the powers that be are divided). One imagines many journalists checking with their bosses and so on up the scale, to see how it should be pursued. But, who is at the top(s) of those scales, really?

Do see the other critical items in Gulag on the topic of “Technocracy.”


Joint Letter to Obama Administration and Congress on Surveillance and Transparency

July 18, 2013

We the undersigned are writing to urge greater transparency around national security-related requests by the US government to Internet, telephone, and web-based service providers for information about their users and subscribers. First, the US government should ensure that those companies who are entrusted with the privacy and security of their users’ data are allowed to regularly report statistics reflecting:

  • The number of government requests for information about their users made under specific legal authorities such as Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act, Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act, the various National Security Letter (NSL) statutes, and others;
  • The number of individuals, accounts, or devices for which information was requested under each authority; and
  • The number of requests under each authority that sought communications content, basic subscriber information, and/or other information.

Second, the government should also augment the annual reporting that is already required by statute by issuing its own regular “transparency report” providing the same information: the total number of requests under specific authorities for specific types of data, and the number of individuals affected by each.

As an initial step, we request that the Department of Justice, on behalf of the relevant executive branch agencies, agree that Internet, telephone, and web-based service providers may publish specific numbers regarding government requests authorized under specific national security authorities, including the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) and the NSL statutes. We further urge Congress to pass legislation requiring comprehensive transparency reporting by the federal government and clearly allowing for transparency reporting by companies without requiring companies to first seek permission from the government or the FISA Court.

Basic information about how the government uses its various law enforcement–related investigative authorities has been published for years without any apparent disruption to criminal investigations. We seek permission for the same information to be made available regarding the government’s national security–related authorities.

This information about how and how often the government is using these legal authorities is important to the American people, who are entitled to have an informed public debate about the appropriateness of those authorities and their use, and to international users of US-based service providers who are concerned about the privacy and security of their communications.

Just as the United States has long been an innovator when it comes to the Internet and products and services that rely upon the Internet, so too should it be an innovator when it comes to creating mechanisms to ensure that government is transparent, accountable, and respectful of civil liberties and human rights. We look forward to working with you to set a standard for transparency reporting that can serve as a positive example for governments across the globe.

Thank you.

Apple Inc.

Boston Common Asset Management
Domini Social Investments
F&C Asset Management Plc
New Atlantic Ventures
Union SquareVentures
Y Combinator

Nonprofit Organizations & Trade Associations
American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression
American Civil Liberties Union
American Library Association
American Society of News Editors
Americans for Tax Reform
Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law School
Center for Democracy & Technology
Center for Effective Government
Committee to Protect Journalists
Competitive Enterprise Institute
Computer & Communications Industry Association
The Constitution Project
Demand Progress
Electronic Frontier Foundation
First Amendment Coalition
Foundation for Innovation and Internet Freedom
Freedom to Read Foundation
Global Network Initiative
Human Rights Watch
Internet Association
Liberty Coalition
National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
National Coalition against Censorship
New America Foundation’s Open Technology Institute
Project on Government Oversight
Public Knowledge
Reporters Committee for Freedom Of The Press
Reporters Without Borders
Wikimedia Foundation
World Press Freedom Committee


  1. I’m going with CYA, with some agitation thrown in for a “We wanna be sure you KNOW we’re screwing you” effect.

    Weren’t Eric Schmidt and Mark Zuckerberg sucking up at this year’s Bilderberg conference?


    They are the ARCHITECTS of the increasingly rapacious invasion of every single privacy, however trivial!

    • And the other thing is, these phony privacy laws where they declare they need a court order with a judge’s signature, then later a National Security Letter signed by a judge, then later just the National Security Letter!

      That’s all bunk.

      They have ALWAYS intervened and intercepted – at their collective whim – any piece of your privacy they choose, frequently based on a phony, trumped-up and manufactured “dossier,” thereby justifying a VERY good-paying job with killer benefits for life, which wouldn’t exist otherwise.

      People with entire careers who do nothing but invade your privacy and violate your civil, Constitutional and human rights.

      Useless eaters.

      Then they retire early, pull a big fat pension, THEN take ANOTHER government position in ANOTHER agency, such as the LEIU, and pull ANOTHER big fat salary with killer benes.

      Sometimes they get disability on top of all that without even having to go to a doctor for certification.

      Likewise, THEY become the “captains” who head up all the community organizing of the armies of young people and kids, and the grotesquely-entitled, mindless meat puppet Globot Welfare spies.

      They are EVERYWHERE, calling themselves “Community Police,” and their sole function is to drive around (Global Warming my a$$) for eight hours a day, harassing innocent citizens.

      This is what the Federal Family Shadow Government Mafia Cult Kinderocracy refer to as “job creation.”

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