Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Provide More Transparency Around Government Surveillance of Internet Users

Companies have already had limited success in casting some daylight into the shadows of national security surveillance. After extensive negotiations, the Justice Department recently allowed some companies to release extremely general aggregate information about some categories of intelligence requests. Courts have exerted pressure as well: In March, a district judge found the broad gag orders associated with National Security Letters unconstitutional, though that ruling has been stayed pending appellate review. And just this week, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court agreed to declassify the legal opinions requiring Yahoo to participate in PRISM. On the whole, however, the practical legal constraints on intelligence surveillance—and the reasoning behind them—remain hidden from both congress and the general public.

The Center for Democracy and Technology is simultaneously launching a White House petition, allowing members of the public to join the call for greater transparency.We the people need to know: How extensive is the government's surveillance of the Internet?

The White House Petition text:

Join us in pressing the White House to allow Internet companies to publish comprehensive transparency reports about government requests for their users' data--and in demanding that the government publish a transparency report of its own.

Democracy requires accountability, and accountability requires transparency.

Recent revelations about the National Security Agency's surveillance programs raise serious questions about the scope of the government's access to our private communications and records. However, Internet and telephone companies are barred by the government from providing even basic answers to their users about those questions.

We the people demand that the government allow Internet and telephone companies to publish basic numerical data about the specific number of government requests they receive under specific legal authorities and the specific number of users affected. In addition, the government should regularly issue its own transparency report with the same information.

Because we need to know.  

Sign the White House Petition at:

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