Facebook Joins In Tech Industry Demands For Surveillance Reform

Facebook on Tuesday reiterated calls for reform of laws pertaining to government surveillance practices in the U.S. and elsewhere.

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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and the company’s Chief Counsel issued calls to reform laws pertaining to government surveillance and bulk data collection on Tuesday – part of a worldwide effort to focus attention on government online spying.

The company, in a blog post, urged governments to stop bulk collection of data and enact reforms to limit governments’ authority to collect users information to pertain to “individual users” for “lawful purposes.” The company also called for more oversight of national intelligence agencies such as the US National Security Agency, and more transparency about government requests for data.

The blog post was authored by Facebook general counsel Colin Stretch. Facebook reiterated its calls for surveillance reform in recognition of “The Day We Fight Back,” a grass roots effort to use Tuesday, February 11th as a day to rally support for more civil liberties protections.


[Read more Security Ledger coverage of Facebook here.]

The date is the one year anniversary of the suicide of Internet activist Aaron Swartz. Leading online publications and privacy rights groups participated in the event including Demand Progress, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Free Press, BoingBoing, Reddit, Mozilla and ThoughtWorks.

Facebook was among a handful of large social networking providers who were part of a classified government program, dubbed PRISM, that provided access to photos, emails and other data for persons of interest. The program came to light only after a former government contractor, Edward Snowden, leaked information about it to the press.

Technology firms have been adamant in pressing The Obama Administration for meaningful reforms. Separate statements from leading tech industry executives on the website reformgovernmentsurveillance.com reiterated many of the same points made by The Day We Fight Back participants. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg posted a statement there calling on the US government to “take this opportunity to lead this reform effort and make things right.” He was joined by Google CEO Larry Page, AOL Chairman and CEO Tim Armstrong, Marissa Mayer, the CEO at Yahoo and Dick Costolo, Twitter’s CEO.

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