Google, Facebook back NSA curbs

Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Yahoo, Apple and AOL are backing legislation to end the NSA's bulk collection of phone records. 

The six tech giants announced their support Thursday for legislation introduced by Rep. James Sensenbrenner Jr. (R-Wis.), the author of the Patriot Act, to end the phone program.


In letters to the bill’s authors and supporters, the companies said they support Sensenbrenner's bill because they want to be able to tell users about government requests for user data.

“Allowing companies to be transparent about the number and nature of requests will help the public better understand the facts about the government’s authority to compel technology companies to disclose user data and how technology companies respond to the targeted legal demands we receive,” the companies wrote. 

“Transparency in this regard will also help to counter erroneous reports that we permit intelligence agencies 'direct access' to our companies’ servers or that we are participants in a bulk Internet records collection program.”

Sensenbrenner's bill, titled the USA Freedom Act, would also establish a constitutional advocate to challenge NSA proposals at the surveillance court. It would increase transparency of the NSA by allowing tech companies to release information about the surveillance requests they receive.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyDurbin calls Mueller report findings on Trump team 'troubling' 20 Dems demand no more money for ICE agents, Trump wall The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump, Dems prep for Mueller report's release MORE (D-Vt.) has introduced a Senate version of the bill.  

The letter also encourages the Obama administration “to increase its transparency efforts and allow us to release more information about the number and types of requests that we receive.”

The group said increased transparency is “a critical first step” but called for “substantial enhancements to privacy protections and appropriate oversight and accountability mechanisms” for surveillance programs.