In a letter to President Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder and key House and Senate leaders, a diverse group of more than 50 trade associations, companies, public interest organizations and investors call for more transparency when the government issues security-related data requests.
The letter is signed by organizations that are not often on the same side. In the letter we ask that companies be allowed to report statistics that would give clues about the scope of government surveillance programs such as the number of government requests for information using their authority under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act or the US PATRIOT Act, as well as the number of individuals or accounts requested and what type of data was requested. We ask those who support the idea to sign a White House petition.
Specifically, those signed on to the letter want the Justice Department to agree to let Internet, phone and web-based service providers publish information on the government requests and that Congress pass legislation demanding transparency form the feds and allowing it from companies by clarifying the law so companies don’t have to get permission from a FISA court before releasing this information to the public.
The Computer & Communications Industry Association has been testifying before Congress for years warning of the dangers of the lack of oversight on government surveillance programs. The following can be attributed to CCIA President & CEO Ed Black:
“Without greater transparency, the public and different branches of government cannot provide the checks and balances that a program like this clearly requires in a democracy.
“We don’t doubt the good intentions of the government workers charged with carrying out this surveillance, but any program like this has negative side effects that ought to be weighed holistically. Right now those who could provide information on the economic, trade or diplomatic consequences are left out of the discussion or don’t have enough information to weigh in and we’re seeing now just how devastating the lack of debate and oversight can be.”
For more see Black’s Huffington Post opinion piece Tuesday:
Black worked on information and government security issues at both the Commerce Department and State Department before leading CCIA.