The tech industry has penned a stiffly worded letter to leaders in the US Senate, to ask them to pass the USA Freedom Act which will bring to an end the collection of bulk domestic phone data by the National Security Agency. The letter is signed by the anti-software piracy group BSA, Computer and Communications Industry Association, Information Technology Industry Council, Reform Government Surveillance and the Software and Information Industry Association. It was sent to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and the Republican Leader in the Senate Mitch McConnell.
The letter said that reforms contained in the USA Freedom Act “will send a clear signal to the international community and to the American people that government surveillance programs are narrowly tailored, transparent, and subject to oversight.”
The U.S. House of Representatives passed an amended version of the USA Freedom Act that would limit the collection of phone data to certain “specific selection terms.” However an expanded definition of the specific selection terms that can be used by the NSA to collect data from phone companies was slammed by civil rights groups and the industry, as it would continue to allow the NSA to target a large number of phone records.
A new bill introduced in the Senate in July by Senator Patrick Leahy, a Democrat from Vermont, and others aims to tighten the collection of data by the NSA by closing loopholes. It has the backing of US Attorney General Eric Holder and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.
The transparency measures and reform of surveillance proposed in the Freedom Act are expected to send positive signals abroad where U.S. tech companies fear losing business, the tech industry groups said, echoing a concern already expressed by a number of tech companies.