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Google, Apple, Facebook, Twitter, Microsoft, Yahoo Form Alliance Against NSA

samzenpus posted about a year ago | from the team-up dept.

Google 293

mrspoonsi writes "BBC reports: Leading global technology firms have called for 'wide-scale changes' to US government surveillance. Eight firms, Google, Apple, Facebook, Twitter, AOL, Microsoft, LinkedIn, and Yahoo, have formed an alliance called Reform Government Surveillance group. The group has written a letter to the US President and Congress arguing that current surveillance practice 'undermines the freedom' of people. It comes after recent leaks detailed the extent of surveillance programs. 'We understand that governments have a duty to protect their citizens. But this summer's revelations highlighted the urgent need to reform government surveillance practices worldwide,' the group said in an open letter published on its website."

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congrats guys and gals (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45639517)

thank you for standing up

Re:congrats guys and gals (5, Insightful)

i kan reed (749298) | about a year ago | (#45639569)

thank you for releasing a press statement claiming that you are standing up, in a way that mollifies those concerned about their privacy, while lacking any substantive evidence of resistance

American corporations, and these 5, in particular, have shown a history of not minding deceitful marketing in the slightest. I feel no compelling reason to trust them.

Re:congrats guys and gals (5, Informative)

Virtucon (127420) | about a year ago | (#45639605)

Their statement should read "You're fucking up our business model and shareholder equity, stop copying us!"

Re:congrats guys and gals (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45639741)

+1000

Re:congrats guys and gals (5, Insightful)

tsa (15680) | about a year ago | (#45639819)

Indeed, they want the NSA to just buy the information it needs from them.

Re:congrats guys and gals (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45640225)

Their statement should read "You're fucking up our business model and shareholder equity, stop copying us!"

And what would be wrong with that? The NSA is doing significant economic harm to the only sector of the US economy that's still growing, and it's doing so without a commensurate increase in the physical security of the 300,000,000 US citizens it claims to be protecting.

Unless NSA can demonstrate that the value of the industrial espionage it conducts exceeds the value it destroys due to customers fleeing US-based IT businesses (and I'm fine with that debate taking place behind closed doors), it needs to seriously consider renouncing its misguided and economically harmful surveillance programmes.

That's our job (5, Informative)

careysb (566113) | about a year ago | (#45639681)

How dare you collect and analyze personal data on our clients! That's our job!

Re:congrats guys and gals (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45639821)

At least they are doing something. What have YOU done?

Re:congrats guys and gals (3, Insightful)

brianwski (2401184) | about a year ago | (#45639867)

Isn't posting on my Facebook wall the same as actually doing something?

Re:congrats guys and gals (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45639939)

Let us know when you are in control of a multi-billion dollar corporation, negotiated an agreement with many other multi-billion dollar corporations and have jointly contacted the President of the USA regarding this issue.

Re:congrats guys and gals (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45639881)

Pee in your butt.

Re:congrats guys and gals (5, Insightful)

Desler (1608317) | about a year ago | (#45639909)

All they are doing is try to protect themselves and their businesses. They could give a shit less about the people being spied on. If they had really cared they would have done this years ago not simply when the egg splatted on their faces.

Re:congrats guys and gals (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45639981)

So what? I don't give a shit what they are doing so long as they can get some kind of results. If I had to choose who was spying on me, I'd rather it be a company than a government. Companies can't misconstrue something that you said, send you to a prison camp and torture you.

Re:congrats guys and gals (3, Insightful)

Desler (1608317) | about a year ago | (#45640219)

The "so what" is that they would have never done anything had there been no PR disaster. They would have continued to gladly give taps on their customer's data. Ignorants like yourself will believe this stunt is some genuine backlash when it's simply so they can save face and continue yo give over the data anyway.

Re:congrats guys and gals (3, Insightful)

Tanktalus (794810) | about a year ago | (#45640159)

Until this got leaked out into the public sphere, they were gagged by the same surveillance orders. They couldn't say anything without admitting they were served with secret subpoenas. Now that this is public knowledge, they can refer to those that were leaked and say this is bad for business/citizens without breaking the law on any further subpoenas.

So, maybe they didn't care. Or maybe they did and just couldn't say anything about it due to the same evil law. From this vantage point, we still can't tell for sure.

Re:congrats guys and gals (2)

Desler (1608317) | about a year ago | (#45640193)

The NSLs don't become null-and-boid because of the leaks. This pure PR damage control and nothing more.

Re:congrats guys and gals (3, Informative)

Curunir_wolf (588405) | about a year ago | (#45640067)

At least they are doing something. What have YOU done?

Cancelled my accounts on Google, Apple, Facebook, Twitter, Microsoft and Yahoo.

Re:congrats guys and gals (2)

stackOVFL (1791898) | about a year ago | (#45640177)

At least they are doing something. What have YOU done?

I haven't bought a XBox or any other Microsoft product, I have not subscribed to Cox VOIP, I also don't have a Facebook page, twittter account or any other related infosite account. I wont buy a PS4 or a new phone, tablet or anything else until this spy / fear mongering crap stops. The only item I have not gotten rid of is gmail. For IMHO they are all the same. Even if you run you own POP server they can get the data. But we'll see maybe I'm just not being clever enough. I realized the gov does not listen to me (I tried but they just said they don't agree with me). But I also realized who the gov will listen too: businesses whose customer base is telling "I don't trust you so I wont buy your product" So, I voted with my "information" (it's as good as cash these days) and cash as well. I'm sure a whole lot of other folks did too. Some of them even post on this site!

Re:congrats guys and gals (2)

poetmatt (793785) | about a year ago | (#45640073)

5? How do you get "these 5" from 8?

I do agree that this isn't significant at all, but all of them are american corporations and three of the 8 have been pretty honest with their marketing.

Re:congrats guys and gals (1)

RamiKro (3019255) | about a year ago | (#45640113)

More importantly, this same corporations are the contractors that facilitated these acts. Now, that they're outed, they suddenly feel compelled to act...

What really worries me is that the only means the surveillance had a chance at being stopped, was through corporate influence. This combined with the bought and paid for electoral process in The States is the classic symptoms of corporatism (classic fascism).

Re:congrats guys and gals (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45639781)

thank you for standing up

What? it's just security theater. Claiming to be on their customers' side (or rather, their products' side) is just for PR. The NSA is one of their biggest customers for buying data and "service fees".

Re:congrats guys and gals (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45640079)

In other news: Blah, blah, blah

Yeah (5, Informative)

GroeFaZ (850443) | about a year ago | (#45639519)

And if that fails, at least give us a standardized interface to share our data, for saving costs.

Re:Yeah (5, Insightful)

Chris Mattern (191822) | about a year ago | (#45639561)

Surprisingly enough, I think this may be fairly serious. The big US Internet business are becoming increasingly scared that the spectre of NSA mass data-gathering is going to shut them out of markets outside the US.

Re:Yeah (4, Insightful)

Nerdfest (867930) | about a year ago | (#45639649)

I'm amazed the foreign governments even consider ising an americal based OS (at any time really, but most certainly now) for anything that requires any level of security while also being internet connected. Really, the same goes for most software. It just seems like asking to be pwned.

Re:Yeah (1)

tsa (15680) | about a year ago | (#45639839)

There aren't many alternatives. And no, Linux is not always an alternative.

Re:Yeah (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45639999)

Linux is always an alternative.

Re:Yeah (0)

tepples (727027) | about a year ago | (#45640069)

Linux is always an alternative.

Not if the publisher of a particular business-critical application refuses to make it work in Wine, or the manufacturer of a particular business-critical peripheral refuses to provide a Linux driver.

Re:Yeah (2)

sharknado (3217097) | about a year ago | (#45639835)

I see this on a daily basis. My company is offering a SaaS version of our software on Amazon EC2, and we're frequently being asked for a hosting alternative outside of the US. The funny thing is, most of the time it's US organizations asking for the overseas hosting.

Re:Yeah (4, Insightful)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | about a year ago | (#45639575)

question: do these companies care about US or THEIR PROFITS (due to people turning away from their free online services)?

I'll give you one guess which of those it is.

in fact, those companies KNEW about the spying (they were asked by the gov, many many times, to reveal info about their users) but only NOW do they *act* like they care about us.

just an excuse to try to make themselves look good and stand along the side of citizens in what they perceive as an alignment.

but its all bullshit. those companies do not care one whit about our privacy. they DO care about a mass exodus away from their services to offshore ones and the fact that 'the cloud' is now seen as something to be avoided.

Re:Yeah (4, Informative)

robinsonne (952701) | about a year ago | (#45639685)

Of course they care about profits! In this instance though, it might just work to our advantage. These are companies with a LOT of money, and in politics money is far more important than than anything else. These companies actually have the money and clout to make anything at all change.

You really think the voters have a chance to make their voices heard?

Re:Yeah (1)

tsa (15680) | about a year ago | (#45639873)

Hasn't it been long so that in the US big companies determine the political course and the 4-yearly elections are a way to make the citizens have the impression that they have an influence?

Re:Yeah (3, Interesting)

gmuslera (3436) | about a year ago | (#45639761)

Is a bit different than that. They are complaining now because the revelation of this is making their paid users to stop using their services. They may or may not be worried about their users privacy, but for sure they are worried about their profits.

In the other hand, tif well they knew the cut of the cake they were getting, they didn't know about all the other companies into the same and how wide and deep were this. Also, the revelation on how the NSA infiltrated their internal network [washingtonpost.com] without their knowledge or consent could had raised some alarms.

In any case, if the NSA head can lie to the congress [slate.com] without consequences after that being found out, why can't they tell all of them that it is over while keep doing it (and keeping the backdoors in their internal networks to keep doing the dirty work) or force them in a way or another to tell the world that all is over when is not, or even plant a fake whiteblower that confirms that the NSA stopped their programs ? By now trust is deeply broken in all that surrounds the NSA, if tomorrow they say that 2+2=4 you should bet that they are doing math in base 3.

Re:Yeah (5, Insightful)

JDG1980 (2438906) | about a year ago | (#45639793)

question: do these companies care about US or THEIR PROFITS (due to people turning away from their free online services)?

Of course they are primarily concerned about their profits (especially about the potential loss of business from non-US customers, who under current NSA doctrine apparently have no right to privacy at all). But in this case, the companies are right on the merits. Their interests and the interests of the general public are, on this particular issue, aligned.

Civil liberties battles are hard enough under the best of circumstances. You take your allies where you can find them.

Re:Yeah (4, Informative)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | about a year ago | (#45639849)

no, I won't 'take my allies where I can find them'. they can too easily shift back to being against me. they are NOT my alies, just enemies of my enemy. haven't you been paying attention the last, say, 20 years or so?

Re:Yeah (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45639579)

Here, have a docx.

Regards,
NSA

strokes goatee

Re:Yeah (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45639895)

I'll put it a folder with the PDF I got from you the other day.

Will they leave the USA? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45639523)

What's their nuclear option? What's their post-nuclear strategy? It's doubtful the NSA is going to change their ways.

Re:Will they leave the USA? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45640123)

Maybe work together on an NSA-proof set of new protocols to replace the old ones? They together control the operating systems of more than 99% of all computers and devices that connect to the internet and their standard software suite to connect to network services, as well as a good share of the services they connect to, so if they work together they surely can establish a new protocol suite on top of TCP/IP.

Re:Will they leave the USA? (2)

whoever57 (658626) | about a year ago | (#45640185)

What's their nuclear option? What's their post-nuclear strategy? It's doubtful the NSA is going to change their ways.

In addition to being spied upon by the NSA, these companies must receive thousands of subpoenas for information. They could be a little less responsive to each one of these in many ways (while still remaining within the law). It would not impact the NSA, but would impact the government.

What about looing in the mirror? (2)

beatle42 (643102) | about a year ago | (#45639537)

While I'm sure the talk about the NSA being able to listen in on their customers will be bad for business, I wonder what they'll do if people start to really take online privacy seriously. That would really cut to the core of their businesses, so perhaps they're really trying to clamp down on it before people start to think about it even more than they already have been.

The NSA is dead (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45639543)

now that the lobbyists are against it.

(Not that spying is dead. I guess it'll be privatized to the same lobbyists.)

It's like the hyenas criticising the lions (5, Insightful)

rizole (666389) | about a year ago | (#45639547)

current surveillance practice 'undermines the freedom' of people.

Re:It's like the hyenas criticising the lions (1)

ZigiSamblak (745960) | about a year ago | (#45639621)

Facebook isn't on the list at least, that would be just too ironic.

Re:It's like the hyenas criticising the lions (1)

i kan reed (749298) | about a year ago | (#45639657)

Headline: "Google, Apple, Facebook, Twitter, Microsoft..."

Re:It's like the hyenas criticising the lions (1)

aliquis (678370) | about a year ago | (#45639903)

Maybe the government could do the same.

Set the default to share everything with the NSA and just hide the setting somewhere obscure, like at the bottom of the sea somewhere or something.

Or just change where it is and replace the defaults every now and then.

Re:It's like the hyenas criticising the lions (1)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | about a year ago | (#45639667)

Facebook isn't on the list at least, that would be just too ironic.

Eight firms, Google, Apple, Facebook, Twitter, AOL, Microsoft, LinkedIn, and Yahoo

Well, that's embarassing.

Re:It's like the hyenas criticising the lions (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45639725)

Yeah, if Google weren't tracking every aspect of what you do online, NSA would have no data to collect from them.

Re:It's like the hyenas criticising the lions (5, Insightful)

Baloroth (2370816) | about a year ago | (#45640025)

current surveillance practice 'undermines the freedom' of people.

I can choose not to use Google (yes, I can even choose to disable their trackers on websites, like, say Slashdot). I can't choose not to have the NSA snoop on email. So it's more like the merchants criticizing the taxmen. One will happily take your freedoms if you give it to them, the other will take your freedoms willing or not.

"undermines the freedom" of people (5, Insightful)

mrspoonsi (2955715) | about a year ago | (#45639559)

They really mean "undermines our companies bottom line".

Google is happy to collect all the information it can get its hands on (and get away with), I am sure the others are equally as complicit.

Re:"undermines the freedom" of people (5, Insightful)

Nerdfest (867930) | about a year ago | (#45639675)

There's a big difference between volunteering your information and having it scooped up by a government agency that has already shown that it will use the information to blackmail you.

Re:"undermines the freedom" of people (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45640065)

And there is a big difference between the threat or use of force to collect personal information about people's communications, travels, purchases and reading habits and aggregating everything in a centralized repository for "Big Data" analysis versus any lone company putting clauses in the fine print of their privacy policies in order to get a bigger slice of your personal data.

Re:"undermines the freedom" of people (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45640153)

Not that big a difference. It's a stretch to say that all Google users have given full informed consent to the collection of all the data Google collects.

How many regular people know that all their queries are logged, or that Google owns Doubleclick and tracks them when they're not on a google.com site? How many people understand how much data google collects, or the implications of such wide and lengthy data collection?

If nothing else, Google is at fault for not laying out exactly what data they're collecting and what they can and do do with it. They could warn people, but they choose not to.

They have a fine point. But (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45639589)

Where is the alliance to prevent Google, Apple, Facebook, Twitter, Microsoft, and Yahoo (and Amazon) from invading our privacy, tracking users' activities across diverse media, permanently archiving and mining the data for commercial advantage, and reconciling the data with known published information about users by name for even greater exploitation?

Oh, but that's totally different, isn't it Larry, Tim, Mark, Dick, Steve, and Marisssa. That's just so you can provide better services to your customers. That has nothing to do with increasing corporate earnings to impress Wall Street so the CEO can get 8-figure USD annual compensation.

But nothing, corporations under your control (5, Informative)

SuperKendall (25149) | about a year ago | (#45639637)

Where is the alliance to prevent Google, Apple, Facebook, Twitter, Microsoft, and Yahoo (and Amazon) from invading our privacy...

That's in your power. Don't use them, or use them in ways you know they can't track you (disable flash/cookies etc).

It's still a VASTLY better situation than the government, which you cannot opt out of. You cannot realistically not use a phone; you cannot realistically connect to the internet at all and not be at risk of the NSA breaking into your system unwanted.

At least what companies DO is transparent. Anyone can see what the websites are sending/receiving, and you know when you are visiting or making use of them. The same is never true of the government.

Re:But nothing, corporations under your control (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45639733)

The companies don't hack your PC or black bag you for some "enhanced" questioning either.

Re:But nothing, corporations under your control (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45639757)

Because of network effects, the aforementioned dominate electronic communication in America and much of the rest of the world. To refuse to use them would be to turn into a bit of a hermit. Also, many companies make use of these services and require their employees to do the same, logging in under their own names.

Re:But nothing, corporations under your control (1)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | about a year ago | (#45639925)

transparent?

let me ask you to do this experiement. go to any 'big' website and view source. can you actually read that javascript stuff? its not meant to be readable and its intentionally obscurred and obfuscated. its hard to even add blocking regex's since they actively try to thwart that, too.

its not transparent. they do all they possibly can to hide what they are really doing. only a really top techie can figure out what's really going on on each http request and reply.

JavaScript beautifiers; /etc/hosts (1)

tepples (727027) | about a year ago | (#45640179)

go to any 'big' website and view source. can you actually read that javascript stuff? its not meant to be readable and its intentionally obscurred and obfuscated.

It's still in syntactically the same form as source code, and there exist JavaScript beautifiers to remove some of the obfuscation.

its hard to even add blocking regex's since they actively try to thwart that, too.

One thing they'd have a harder time thwarting is DNS blacklisting. If I know a particular hostname means nothing but trouble, I can tell any computer that I control to refuse to resolve that hostname by adding it to the computer's hosts file. This means the server behind that hostname will see no connections from my computer.

Re:They have a fine point. But (1)

Antipater (2053064) | about a year ago | (#45639813)

Sometimes you have to ally with the Soviet Union if you want to defeat Nazi Germany.

Re: They have a fine point. But (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45639859)

The only way to trust these, and any US companies, is to encrypt your data so that at you and only you can access the plaintext OUTSIDE OF THE "CLOUD".

I am happy to use them as dumb data stores. Anything that would add value to the data by mining it is not acceptable. I will add value locally.

Damage Control Mode - ON. Well, fuck 'em all (5, Interesting)

rodrigoandrade (713371) | about a year ago | (#45639599)

This is nothing but a PR stunt by these firms to save face, since they all happily collaborated with NSA's dirty practices in exchange of dough and political favors.

I say fuck 'em all!!

Re:Damage Control Mode - ON. Well, fuck 'em all (-1, Flamebait)

Nerdfest (867930) | about a year ago | (#45639691)

From what I've read, the only one that happily cooperted was Microsoft. They are all *required* to participate to a certain degree and cannot provide details about specifics. Google has been providing general details about request numbers for a few years now, and Apple and others have followed suit.

Typical corporate PR bullshit. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45639693)

It's hurting their business. [washingtonpost.com]

Computer World UK reports a recent Cloud Security Alliance (CSA) survey found 10 percent of 207 officials at non-U.S. companies canceled contracts with U.S. providers after the leaks, and 56 percent of non-U.S. respondents are now hesitant to work with U.S.-based cloud operators.

Kids, whenever a big corp says they're doing something for "the good of the people", "your convenience", or for the "common good", they are always full of shit. It is just for THEM and you better put your hand on your wallet.

Re:Damage Control Mode - ON. Well, fuck 'em all (5, Insightful)

wickerprints (1094741) | about a year ago | (#45640019)

Policy-wise, nothing really gets done in the US without the implicit consent of corporate power. This applies even to things like spying. The government is run by the wealthy elite and therefore the policies are designed to favor their interests. Where those interests may conflict, it is usually the entity with the greater influence or better connections that gets their way.

This latter point is where we stand with regard to warrantless domestic surveillance of US citizens by the NSA. The eight companies that have "allied" against this practice, albeit influential as a group, have been for the most part self-interested competitors, and many of them make no attempt to hide the fact that they run a business model that is predicated upon mining personal data from its users in order to sell advertising (Google and Facebook being the most notable examples).

However, that is not to say that they actively or "happily" collaborated with the NSA. The legal requirements, as far as we have been apprised of them, force their cooperation. It is not logical to assume that just because their business involves exploiting their users, that they would not object to NSA surveillance, because the latter does have a deleterious effect on the former. If users suddenly feel paranoid because they think these companies are (willingly or unwillingly) handing over their personal information to the government, then they would be more reluctant to share that data by posting it online. The fear of surveillance brings about increased awareness of the need for protecting one's privacy, which of course is NOT what these companies want. That is the essential argument behind their opposition.

In any case, these companies are merely the repositories for end-user information. The real culprits here, the ones who ARE happily handing over information to the government, are the telecommunications companies, notably AT&T. They are the ones who let the NSA install listening devices on their networks. And you will note that these companies have NOT banded together to protest this illegal surveillance program. They don't see any need to, because they have too much power (since the entire internet is reliant on them) and, unlike Google and Facebook, they have no incentive to protect the data that flows through their networks. If a subscriber doesn't want to share personal information about themselves to a social network, they can opt out of doing so, and the result is a loss of valuable data for the company that operates that network. But it is MUCH harder to completely forgo the internet entirely, which is what you would have to do in order to avoid having AT&T send your data to the NSA. And AT&T doesn't make their money off selling your personal information to advertisers. They make it off your basic need for connectivity.

PR stunt (4, Informative)

hochl (759409) | about a year ago | (#45639633)

They will encrypt all their traffic and hard drives but leave open the surveillance API on their running servers to access the data. Or they will share the encryption keys. "All data will be encrypted to protect customers" is nothing more but a PR stunt!

Privacy from the Govt. not US! (2)

Daemonik (171801) | about a year ago | (#45639639)

Not one of those companies gives a damn about your privacy. They all collect and data-mine more information about you than the NSA does, it's why the NSA tapped them to begin with. They are only doing this to a) prevent or at least minimize foreign countries using the privacy scandal to fund competition against them; b) prevent or at least minimize foreign countries from penalizing them legally; and c) for the slight bit of positive marketing with people who believe they care.

i say: put your money where your mouth is. (5, Interesting)

ClassicASP (1791116) | about a year ago | (#45639651)

We probably won't hear a word about these folks in public TV due to well orchestrated govt control, which makes it less obvious to the public. I say: all seven of these should stand together united with the same message and video on their homepages. That'll force their way into public television networks.

Re:i say: put your money where your mouth is. (2)

jonnythan (79727) | about a year ago | (#45639737)

I dunno about TV, but I learned about this because it was a front-page story on the New York Times. It's not like the mainstream press isn't covering this.

what bullshit! (3, Interesting)

Connie_Lingus (317691) | about a year ago | (#45639659)

why, in heaven's name, would ANYONE believe this nonsense after all the lying that these corps. and agencies have been stuffing up our butts?

talk about astroturf on a grand scale...more like astroturd.

Re:what bullshit! (3, Interesting)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | about a year ago | (#45639885)

one good thing to come from the NSA scandal is that people are finally realizing they can't trust:

- the government (the data collectors and manipulators, at least)

- big business

and in a way, its a KIND of progress! its a start. to at least admit there is a problem, that's good progress.

however, step 2 is a bit harder to accomplish...

Sounds Legit... (3, Insightful)

They'reComingToTakeM (1091657) | about a year ago | (#45639663)

Messrs Pot, Pot, Pot, Pot, Pot, Pot, Pot, & Pot - Meet Agent Black.

Re:Sounds Legit... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45639833)

Wouldn't they be meeting agent kettle?

Re:Sounds Legit... (1)

N1AK (864906) | about a year ago | (#45639991)

When the US government gives me the option to signup to being spied on, explains in its terms what it will do with the info etc then I'll be the first to agree it's the same thing. But they aren't; so let's stop with the stupid strawman attacks on these companies and welcome anything they do, no matter how cynical the reasons, to push the government to leave us the fuck alone.

Give up our security? (3, Funny)

MonkeyDancer (797523) | about a year ago | (#45639697)

Are they nuts? My Senator says "these tools are required to intercept and obstruct terrorism". He goes on to say that "we must never allow the terrorists to alter the freedoms that define our country and make us the greatest nation in the world". If we stop these programs then the terrorists win!

Re:Give up our security? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45639855)

I'm sure Bin Laden wanted an internet free from spying and surveillance. Do you support the same ideals as Bin Laden?

Re:Give up our security? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45639935)

I'm sure Bin Laden wanted an internet free from spying and surveillance. Do you support the same ideals as Bin Laden?

1) Hitler breathed oxygen
2) Hitler was a Nazi
3) You breathe oxygen
4) ...you Nazi scum!

Re:Give up our security? (1)

bigpat (158134) | about a year ago | (#45640135)

I'm sure Bin Laden wanted an internet free from spying and surveillance. Do you support the same ideals as Bin Laden?

I'm sure Bin Laden liked ice water on a hot day too, and I still like ice water on a hot day.

Serious Question (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45639717)

Most people that visit this site are obviously above average in their understanding of technology. Why is it, then -- and knowing full well surveillance was taking place before the news was broken -- would you (metaphorically) entrust your most private documents and photos to the aforementioned companies? To be honest, and from what I've seen, the convenience isn't worth the aggro. I distrust corporations more quickly than I distrust government. Distrust is there all around, but a for-profit company with revenue on the cutting block is far more likely to act in a dodgy manner. Thoughts?

Captcha: heeded

This is nuts! (1)

ImOuttaHere (2996813) | about a year ago | (#45639731)

Since when have any of these companies ever cared a whit or a bit for their customer's privacy? Something clearly does not add up here. Must be a publicity stunt and nothing more.

AOL (3, Insightful)

simpz (978228) | about a year ago | (#45639773)

"Eight leading Internet firms, Google, Apple, Facebook, Twitter, AOL, Microsoft, LinkedIn, and Yahoo, have formed an alliance called Reform Government Surveillance group."

As someone else pointed out "Seven leading Internet firms" and AOL

Who's still using AOL , or is still paying for it and actually uses their service. I'm sure I read somewhere that a large percentage of their users are unaware that they no longer needed their AOL subscription to get online via broadband?

Re:AOL (1)

Red_Chaos1 (95148) | about a year ago | (#45640121)

You'd be surprised (or maybe not) how many people still pay to keep the @aol.com e-mail they've had for going on 2 decades now.

AOL (1)

Luthair (847766) | about a year ago | (#45639777)

Oh hey guys, we still exist!

Re:AOL (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45639967)

OH HAY GUYZ, We still exist!

FTFY.

Just government surveillance, huh? (2)

Jupix (916634) | about a year ago | (#45639789)

Google, Apple, Facebook, Twitter, AOL, Microsoft, LinkedIn, and Yahoo, have formed an alliance called Reform Government Surveillance group.

"Government surveillance"? At least the NSA isn't reading my stuff to figure out how to best sell me things...

So what about corporate surveillance? I'm a lot more worried about the snooping being done in this group of corporations.

Actually, clearly I'm not very worried about that either, since I keep using Windows, Google, Facebook etc.

It's about money, not freedom. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45639841)

This is all about money, not your freedom. Take, for example, Brazil where the country is now considering passing a bill that will require user data about its citizens be kept locally on Brazilian soil:

http://www.businessweek.com/news/2013-10-28/nsa-spying-allegations-put-google-on-hot-seat-corporate-brazil
http://www.renesys.com/2013/10/google-dns-departs-brazil-ahead-new-law/

The companies that have signed up to this bill are trying to head off countries like Brazil taking action as above. If Brazil does it, then maybe China will follow suit and maybe after China, India or Germany. And so on. Then it becomes much more expensive for Google and facebook to operate and that will impact their bottom line.

This isn't about freedom, it's about money.

Agree (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45639891)

Posting this anonymously. This is a big thing in Europe & a lot of companies there are avoiding American products on the Cloud. I work for a Swedish company. We were all set to move our company email to Google Apps when the scandal broke. Now we have decided against it now.

Cosmetic and Sorely Unfortunate (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45639853)

W.H. (i.e. Obama) is pissed-off.

Meddling people (i.e. slugs in W.H. slang) like Bill Gates and Schmidt et. al attached the W.H. darling, NSA.

W.H. is crafting legislation at this moment to subject all Business organizations officers to be subject to TSA flight and security regulations to a higher degree than the public.

Measures will include mandatory strip-search and bacterial-medical-desease quarantine for all domestic and international flights. No exceptions.

Thanks to Google et. al.

Google can and does read your mail (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45639861)

It's right there in their TOU. They use it for business purposes, so they can target you with ads and cut better deals with external advertisers.

How is that different from what the NSA is doing, other than that it was announced in advance? And Google and many other companies have been known to change the TOU's on active accounts when they see fit, always in the direction of diminished privacy. I recently went through a stack of non-bill letters I'd received from American Express over the past five years. Every single one of them was a modification of the terms of my account, in the direction of allowing American Express to make fuller use of the knowledge of my transaction history and to sell the same to outside vendors. What am I going to do, cancel my account? I'm sure some fraction of subscribers do, and American Express has modelled that and is OK with that percent.

Re:Google can and does read your mail (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about a year ago | (#45640077)

how is it different to go through your mail by bots to serve you shit and to have it being snooped by potentially tens of thousands of 20-30 year old contractors NSA bought on a sale from the random "security cleared" market? a lot of it is different - from the other you might get served penis enlargement adverts and from the other you might get a swat team bust your house up unannounced with weapons hot ready to kill.

btw. you do have a big problem with privacy laws in general which allows companies to make db's with your information and allows shit like credit check companies sell your information to be used in credit fraud..

He who votes decides nothing (3, Insightful)

Gothmolly (148874) | about a year ago | (#45639877)

He who COUNTS the votes decides everything. Good luck guys. Let us know how it works out for you.

Oh irony... (1)

mugurel (1424497) | about a year ago | (#45639883)

Aren't these the firms that have for years complied silently to dubious NSA requests to hand over user data and/or encryption keys?

Rights to provide details (2)

sl4shd0rk (755837) | about a year ago | (#45639995)

FTFA: "rights to provide details of any such future data requests to their users"

This is the only substance in TFA talking about what they "alliance" wants. All that means to me is there will be another EULA full of word-spin everyone will simply click through because it's bullshit.

Until there is a service where you physically posses your encryption key, this is all the same clear-text data laying on disk, wrapped in SSL when it's moving. Still subject to eveasdropping.

they got that old time privacy religion (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45640005)

Which is why this latest move is just a PR sham. They don't care about privacy at all. I don't have a specific count of the number of times the CEO's, or other higher ups of these companies have said this, but I'm pretty sure all have made statements to the effect that "privacy is dead, get over it".

If this group had come out and plainly said that their action is based solely on the bottom-line justification of not losing overseas market share and not because of any new found respect for the principles of individual privacy, I might have taken their move seriously.

Bla bla bla.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45640027)

NSA pays them money for their un-lawful searches, and it's not an insignificant amount of money that NSA pays them. Business is business. They may boast it's all wrong, but their hands stretched out in expectation of a Judas coin is undeniable.

Shout at the Devil (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45640081)

Given the number of companies that use their cloud services to provide web and mobile app services I would be much happier if Amazon was part of this motley crue...

right (1)

arnodf (1310501) | about a year ago | (#45640133)

AAAHAHAHahahahaha

Where are the Editors? (1)

BronsCon (927697) | about a year ago | (#45640163)

The submitter seems to have misspelled "With".

Their wallets took a hit... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45640201)

When you cozy up to the government for the tax avoidance benefits, they're going to expect you open up your company to any and all requests they themselves deem legal. You can't take the payoff, and not pay the mafia boss... This is all for show, to try and win back some of the users/product they've lost. If the service is free, YOU are the PRODUCT.

Shout at the Devil (1)

drmartin66 (2484082) | about a year ago | (#45640237)

Given the number of companies that use their web services for web sites and mobile apps I would be much happier is Amazon was part of this Motley Crue...
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