Some of the world’s biggest technology companies are teaming up with top advocacy groups to push Congress to reform the nation’s spying laws.

Companies including Apple, Microsoft, Facebook and Google got together with civil liberties organizations like the American Civil Liberties Union and the Electronic Frontier Foundation on Wednesday to push for change.

{mosads}“Now is the time to take on meaningful legislative reforms to the nation’s surveillance programs that maintain national security while preserving privacy, transparency, and accountability,” the more than 40 companies and groups told leaders of Congress and the Obama administration in a letter sent on Wednesday.

“[T]he status quo is untenable and it is urgent that Congress move forward with reform.”

Tech companies have been the biggest corporate backers of reforming the laws that empower the National Security Agency. In the wake of former NSA contractor Edward Snowden’s leaks about the agency, their customers around the globe have grown suspicious of the firms, potentially costing them billions of dollars in lost sales.

NSA critics ran into obstacles last year, when their best chance at reforming the spy agency came two votes shy of overcoming a filibuster in the Senate.

But now, they are hoping that a June 1 deadline for Congress to reauthorize some portions of the Patriot Act will give them new leverage. Lawmakers have yet to seriously begin work on a reform bill but renewed effort from advocates could help spur that process along. 

Among other portions that are set to expire in June is the controversial legal provision allowing the NSA to collect phone records about virtually all Americans, known as Section 215. In order to reauthorize it, reformers are hoping lawmakers will agree to seriously limit the spy agency’s power.

In their letter on Wednesday, the groups told lawmakers that any reform bill must end the agency’s power to collect records in bulk and also include transparency measures so that both the government and private companies can tell people what information federal agents are collecting.

Major tech companies signed on to the letter as part of both the Reform Government Surveillance coalition and the Internet Association, a major industry trade group. Other signers were the Wikimedia Foundation — which is spearheading a new lawsuit against the NSA — as well as Mozilla, FreedomWorks, Human Rights Watch and the New America Foundation’s Open Technology Institute.

Tags American Civil Liberties Union Facebook Google National Security Agency Reform Government Surveillance
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