Tech industry groups ask US Senate to 'swiftly pass' NSA curbs

The coalition of tech industry groups wrote a letter to Senate leaders as an erosion of trust was affecting their business abroad

Tech industry organizations have written a letter to leaders in the U.S. Senate, to ask them to swiftly pass the USA Freedom Act, legislation that is expected to end the collection of bulk domestic phone data by the National Security Agency.

Disclosures about the U.S. government's surveillance programs since June 2013 have led to an erosion of public trust in the U.S. government and the U.S. technology sector, anti-software piracy group BSA, Computer and Communications Industry Association, Information Technology Industry Council, Reform Government Surveillance and the Software and Information Industry Association wrote to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Republican Leader in the Senate Mitch McConnell on Monday.

Reforms contained in the USA Freedom Act "will send a clear signal to the international community and to the American people that government surveillance programs are narrowly tailored, transparent, and subject to oversight," the industry groups added.

In June last year, former NSA contractor Edward Snowden revealed that the NSA was collecting phone metadata of Americans from Verizon, the first of a series of revelations about U.S. surveillance in the country and abroad.

The U.S. House of Representatives passed in May an amended version of the USA Freedom Act that would limit the collection of phone data to certain "specific selection terms." But an expanded definition of the specific selection terms that can be used by the NSA to collect data from phone companies was criticized by civil rights groups and the industry, as it would continue to allow the NSA to target a large number of phone records.

The bill introduced in the Senate in July by Senator Patrick Leahy, a Democrat from Vermont, and others aims to tighten the collection of data by the NSA by closing loopholes. In a letter to Leahy last week, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper expressed support for the bill.

The transparency measures and reform of surveillance proposed in the Freedom Act are expected to send positive signals abroad where U.S. tech companies fear losing business, the tech industry groups said, echoing a concern already expressed by a number of tech companies.

Cisco Systems' CEO John Chambers, for example, wrote to U.S. President Barack Obama in May, asking for his intervention so that U.S. technology sales were not affected by a loss in trust.

"As a result of the surveillance program revelations, U.S. technology companies have experienced negative economic implications in overseas markets," the tech groups wrote. "In addition, other countries are considering proposals that would limit data flows between countries, which would have a negative impact on the efficiencies upon which the borderless Internet relies."

Congress returned from recess on Monday though there may be only a few days of legislative business ahead of campaigning for midterm elections.

John Ribeiro covers outsourcing and general technology breaking news from India for The IDG News Service. Follow John on Twitter at @Johnribeiro. John's e-mail address is john_ribeiro@idg.com

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags privacylegislationU.S. National Security AgencyU.S. Senate

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

John Ribeiro

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?