White House aims to protect companies who give up requested data

May 3, 2014
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White House aims to protect companies who give up requested data

Post Edward Snowden and the revelations of widespread NSA intrusion, many larger tech companies have been as forthcoming as possible about what information they’re giving to authorities. In anticipation of reform bills for how and why the NSA does what they do (as well as those currently in process), The White House is asking that any legislation include language to keep tech companies safeguarded from prosecution.


The proposed legislation is for a day when the NSA no longer collects all data in bulk, instead asking for specific data as needed. The move will likely be lobbied for by carriers like Verizon and AT&T, who aren’t as vocal about change as some other tech companies. Google, Facebook, and others who control massive amounts of data are pushing for reform more publicly, while carriers simply make macro data about information gathering from the Government public knowledge.

Competing bills offer differing takes on the future of surveillance and information gathering. The FISA Transparency and Modernization Act current before the House still allows for bulk gathering of data regarding phone calls. A competing bill, the USA Freedom Act, is one more citizens will likely agree with; it stomps out bulk data collection altogether. Interestingly enough, the USA Freedom Act is penned by the man who helped write the Patriot Act, which gave the Government surveillance powers to begin with.

The White House is asking that both of these bills — and any introduced after — include language to protect “any person who complies in good faith with an order to produce records”. The aim is to reduce legal accountability for companies that are simply doing as the law prescribes, but it still keeps them under our microscopes. Those concerned with privacy will still want to make sure their carrier or any company in control of their data is protecting it diligently, even when ordered to report to the Government. Now more than ever, transparency reports are crucial.

Source: The Guardian


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