Technology firms appeal to Obama over Prism scandal

A technology industry alliance has appealed to President Obama for greater transparency to reduce the harm of links to Prism

In the latest attempt to reduce the impact of links to the Prism online surveillance scandal, a technology industry alliance has appealed to US President Barack Obama to allow greater transparency.

The alliance of companies, investors, charities and trade bodies wants to publish the number of government requests for information about their users to help restore some trust, reports the Telegraph.

The alliance also wants to publish the number of individuals, accounts and devices for which information was requested; and the number of requests for content, subscriber information and other information.

The move comes just days after Yahoo won a legal battle to have papers from a key 2008 court case declassified and published in a bid for greater transparency about Prism.

Like Yahoo, the alliance argues that US citizens are entitled to have an informed public debate about the appropriateness of intelligence-related authorities and their use.

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The alliance said the information is also important to international users of US-based service providers who are concerned about the privacy and security of their communications.

Since the Prism programme was revealed by whistleblower Edward Snowden, technology companies such as Google and Microsoft – which already publish transparency reports – have pushed to include details of the currently secret requests made under the US Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (Fisa).

Microsoft said greater transparency on the requests would help the community understand and debate these important issues.

Google has blamed the non-disclosure requirements of US intelligence data requests  for fuelling speculation about what data is shared with government agencies.

The technology industry alliance’s letter to Obama calls on the US government to begin issuing a regular transparency report on the number of information requests made and the number of people affected.

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