Google, Microsoft and More Launch Campaign to Reform NSA Spying

Eight of the largest companies in tech have joined forces to battle the NSA's spying, demanding sweeping reforms of the US Government's surveillance policies.

AOL, Apple, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Twitter, and Yahoo have written and signed a letter to President Obama and Congress, which you can read online. According to The Hill , it will run in national print ads on Monday.

Referring to itself as the Global Government Surveillance Reform, the campaign is the biggest, broadest and most populist attempt so far by the companies—some of which are often at loggerheads with each other—to sway government policy.

The letter outlines five guiding privacy principles the coalition wants to see implemented: limiting governments' authority to collect users' information, oversight and accountability, transparency about government demands, respecting the free flow of information, and avoiding conflicts among governments.

Voices from some of the largest companies lend weight to the letter. So, Larry Page explains:

"The security of users' data is critical, which is why we've invested so much in encryption and fight for transparency around government requests for information. This is undermined by the apparent wholesale collection of data, in secret and without independent oversight, by many governments around the world. It's time for reform and we urge the US government to lead the way."

While Mark Zuckerberg crows:

"Reports about government surveillance have shown there is a real need for greater disclosure and new limits on how governments collect information. The US government should take this opportunity to lead this reform effort and make things right."

Essentially, the letter acknowledges the government's need to take certain actions for the public good, while pointing out that current methods are ultimately flawed. Which is totally the case. What impact it will have, of course, remains to be seen. [Global Government Surveillance Reform via New York Times]