Microsoft has joined forces with Apple, Google, Yahoo, AOL and Facebook in a bid to reform online surveillance and increase transparency about data requests. The six companies have written a letter to senators and congressmen calling for changes in an unusual show of allegiance.
A raft of revelation about the activities of the NSA has opened up the debate about the monitoring of citizens' web usage, and the request made by government for access to user data. Companies have been practically falling over themselves to reveal as much information as they are permit about the requests that have been made of them, and the letter calls for greater transparency.
The letter stresses that each of the six companies have only handed over customer data when legally required to do so, but want to be able to tell customers more about the request.
"Transparency is a critical first step to an informed public debate, but it is clear that more needs to be done," the letter states.
The letter goes on to suggest that reform is needed: "Transparency is a critical first step to an informed public debate, but it is clear that more needs to be done. Our companies believe that government surveillance practices should also be reformed to include substantial enhancements to privacy protections and appropriate oversight and accountability mechanisms for those programs."
It will be interesting to see if six such big names coming together has any effect, but one thing is for sure… this is one campaign that has massively public backing.