Tech giants call on US to reform surveillance laws

Tech giants call on US to reform surveillance laws

LONDON - Eight leading technology companies on Monday called on the United States to overhaul its surveillance laws to better balance the needs of security and individual rights, in the wake of the Edward Snowden leaks.

In an open letter to US President Barack Obama and the US Congress, AOL, Apple, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Twitter and Yahoo said Washington should lead the way in a worldwide reform of state-sponsored spying.

"We understand that governments have a duty to protect their citizens. But this summer's revelations highlighted the urgent need to reform government surveillance practices worldwide," the letter said.

"The balance in many countries has tipped too far in favour of the state and away from the rights of the individual - rights that are enshrined in our Constitution.

"This undermines the freedoms we all cherish. It's time for a change."

They added: "We urge the US to take the lead and make reforms that ensure that government surveillance efforts are clearly restricted by law, proportionate to the risks, transparent and subject to independent oversight."

Since June, newspapers across the world have revealed the wide scope of government spying by publishing classified documents leaked by Snowden, a former US National Security Agency (NSA) analyst now on the run in Russia.

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