The Global Network Initiative welcomes the principles on Global Government Surveillance Reform launched today by a group of technology companies including GNI member companies Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Yahoo! and observer company LinkedIn.
The companies call for an end to bulk data collection of Internet communications, demand independent judicial review of surveillance requests, and present an approach that would protect privacy for Internet users worldwide. GNI’s participants commit to engage governments in support of rights to freedom of expression and privacy. We applaud this effort, which shows that even when they are legally barred from disclosing government demands, companies can take action to press for reform.
GNI has urged those governments who have formally committed to protecting rights online to lead by example, beginning with greater transparency on government requests. As an initiative that brings together technology companies with civil society, investors, and academics, we look forward to working with governments around the world to address legitimate security concerns while protecting universal rights to privacy and freedom of expression.
Although all governments have a responsibility to ensure that their surveillance practices are consistent with international human rights standards, the United States is in the global spotlight on this issue. As the U.S. considers reforms to its surveillance regime in advance of the report of the President’s Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies, it has an opportunity to demonstrate real leadership by enacting reforms that would bring oversight and control over surveillance regimes commensurate with their capacity. The reforms proposed today would help to ensure a rights-based approach to national security surveillance worthy of adoption globally.