Menu
Obama backs new surveillance legislation, but tech companies reject

Obama backs new surveillance legislation, but tech companies reject

A tech industry group said it cannot support the legislation in its current form

A tech industry group that has Facebook and Google as participants has rejected the latest draft of a U.S. legislation that aims to put curbs on surveillance by the National Security Agency.

The administration of U.S. President Barack Obama on Wednesday said it supported swift passage of the USA Freedom Act by the U.S. House of Representatives, and urged the Senate to follow suit.

"Overall, the bill's significant reforms would provide the public greater confidence in our programs and the checks and balances in the system," the White House said in a statement.

But the tech companies, which also include Yahoo, AOL, Apple, Microsoft, Twitter and LinkedIn, have said in a statement that the latest draft opens up an "unacceptable loophole that could enable the bulk collection of Internet users' data."

The tech companies coalition, called Reform Government Surveillance, said it could not support the bill as currently drafted and urged Congress to close the loophole to ensure meaningful reform. The legislation has moved in the wrong direction, it added. The group did not give details of the loophole it wants removed.

In December, the tech companies called for the reform around the world of government surveillance laws and practices, with the U.S. taking the lead. Some Internet companies were charged in disclosures last year by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden of providing to the agency real-time access to contents on their servers, which the companies denied. There were also reports that the agency was tapping into communications links between the data centers of Yahoo and Google.

Civil rights groups have also criticized the new turn in the legislation which is meant to end bulk collection of communications records by the NSA.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation, for example, is concerned about the new definition of "specific selection term," which describes and limits who or what the NSA is allowed to monitor.

The expression was originally defined in the legislation as "a term used to uniquely describe a person, entity, or account," wrote Kevin Bankston, policy director of the New America Foundation's Open Technology Institute. The new definition, which refers to "a discrete term, such as a term specifically identifying a person, entity, account, address, or device," could allow for the use of broad selection terms such as a zip code. It converts an exclusive list of unique identifiers into an unbounded list of discrete identifiers, while explicitly adding addresses and devices as types of identifiers, Bankston wrote in a blog post.

"Congress has been clear that it wishes to end bulk collection, but given the government's history of twisted legal interpretations, this language can't be relied on to protect our freedoms," EFF said in a post.

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

Follow Us

Join the New Zealand Reseller News newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags telecommunicationCarriersGoogleregulationsecurityU.S. National Security AgencylegislationgovernmentprivacyFacebook

Featured

Slideshows

Arrow exclusively introduces Tenable Network Security to A/NZ channel

Arrow exclusively introduces Tenable Network Security to A/NZ channel

Arrow Electronics introduced Tenable Network Security to local resellers in Sydney last week, officially launching the distributor's latest security partnership across Australia and New Zealand. Representing the first direct distribution agreement locally for Tenable specifically, the deal sees Arrow deliver security solutions directly to mid-market and enterprise channel partners on both sides of the Tasman.

Arrow exclusively introduces Tenable Network Security to A/NZ channel
Examining the changing job scene in the Kiwi channel

Examining the changing job scene in the Kiwi channel

Typically, the New Year brings new opportunities for personnel within the Kiwi channel. 2017 started no differently, with a host of appointments, departures and reshuffles across vendor, distributor and reseller businesses. As a result, the job scene across New Zealand has changed - here’s a run down of who is working where in the year ahead…

Examining the changing job scene in the Kiwi channel
​What are the top 10 tech trends for New Zealand in 2017?

​What are the top 10 tech trends for New Zealand in 2017?

Digital Transformation (DX) has been a critical topic for business over the last few years and IDC is now predicting a step change as DX reaches macroeconomic levels. By 2020 a DX economy will emerge and it will become the core of what New Zealand industries focus on. From the board level through to the C-Suite, Kiwi organisations must be prepared to think and act digital when the DX economy emerges in 2017.

​What are the top 10 tech trends for New Zealand in 2017?
Show Comments