Google, on its heels from a recent EU Court of Justice ruling, has taken to the offensive across the pond in America. Dissatisfied with the US House of Representative’s USA Freedom Act, which it believes to be too watered down, the search giant has ramped up its activities with a view to getting a much stronger bill from the Senate. Civil liberty groups, concerned citizens and the industry clamoring for reform of the government’s spying apparatus initially supported the legislation. But after seeing key provisions in the bill eliminated they, along with Google and others in the tech industry, reversed course and tabled their endorsements.
Google in announcing its initiative, has taken to Twitter to campaign for real reform in the Senate version of the bill:
‘It’s been a year since Edward Snowden shocked the world with his deeply troubling revelations about the extent of US government surveillance.
The House of Representatives just passed a bill called the USA Freedom Act. That bill was designed to prevent the bulk collection of Internet data /e.g., who you email and who emails you) by the US government. This kind of surveillance- where data may be collected for no specific intelligence purpose and without effective judicial oversight- runs counter to our democratic principles.
Unfortunately, as the bill made its way through Congress, the text was watered down so badly that it will not prevent bulk data collection. For example, as the bill stands today it still could permit the collection of email records from everyone who uses a particular email service. As the legislation moves over to the Senate, it is critical that this loophole be closed. We need real surveillance reform urgently.’
It is hoped that with such a large outcry and such a broad coalition the Senate will take notice. Google, no stranger to caving in to the government when it comes knocking for information, is leading the way. Hopefully they’ll be joined in larger numbers by companies in the industry. Because the need for reform of activities such as practiced by the NSA is essential. You have been alerted. If you hold privacy dear, you will contact your senator to push for real reform now.
Google has set up a ’take action’ web page, where you can join them and over three million people in their campaign for a free and open internet.