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Inside Scoop: Tech giants want limits on government snoopingIn an open letter to President Obama and members of Congress, a group of technology heavyweights including Apple, Google, and Facebook is calling for greater oversight of government surveillance. CNET's Seth Rosenblatt details what the companies are...
-Hello and welcome to Inside Scoop, I'm Sumi Das joining me is senior writer for CNET, Seth Rosenblatt. Seth, thanks for being with us. -Thanks, Sumi. Thank you. -So, there was an open letter written by a bunch of tech heavy weights-- -Uh huh. -that have banded together. And it's an open letter to Congress and to the president of the United States about security and-- -Uh huh. Yes. -the collective sort of group is called 'Reform Government Surveillance." -Yes. -Tell us what this letter is asking for. I mean, the title kinda gives it away, but-- -You're right. So to summarize, there's a bunch of good points in the letter, but to summarize these companies are asking the government to be more fair, you know, according to them and how they request data from these companies. -Yeah. -So, they want more oversight. They want more safeguards. They want more transparency. And these are things that technically they've had, but because of various rulings in the FISA and surveillance courts over the years, have been sort of hamstrung and the government has found ways to circumvent them and these companies are upset and they're not gonna take it anymore. -Yeah. So why now? Why are the companies asking for, you know, limitations--reasonable limitations on the government's powers and abilities in terms of security? -Sure. This all goes back to the Edward Snowden document leaks. -Right. -The documents that he blew the whistle on-- have really changed the game. Surveillance is something that is not just talked about people wearing tin foil hats. -Uh huh. -We've actually found out it's far worse than we could ever have imagined. And you know, that involves pretty serious things like various governments around the world being involved in breaking cryptographic standards and really doing pretty severe damage to how the internet operates. -What do you think is gonna happen next? I mean, we were chatting this and this is sort of like a warning shot, right, in some regards. -Yes. Yes, absolutely. This is-- This is definitely nothing more than a warning shot. In and of itself, there's no teeth. But what it does indicate is that these companies that really, you know, oftenly they get along in some ways, but they're always sort of arguing with each other and fighting with each other over-- -We should maybe mention which companies-- sorry to interrupt-- -Oh sure, yeah. -But yeah, we've got Apple, Twitter, Microsoft-- -Facebook. -Facebook. -Google, of course, Yahoo. -LinkedIn. -Google LinkedIn and AOL. -It's all the big players. -All the big players are involved. They're all agreeing to this. And that's a big deal. What we're probably gonna wind-up seen is nothing in the short term. -Okay. -But in the long term, I wouldn't be surprise if we saw a far more lobbying in relation to surveillance on Capitol Hill, and this is also assigned to these companies' customers that they are attempting to take steps to protect you. It's not something that I would personally put a lot of faith in at the moment. -Okay. -And no response thus far from the government; however, the letter was just sort of-- -[unk] -Yeah. Okay. As far as customers are concerned, there's nothing really that they can do at this point, right? If they're using the services of any of those companies or the products that any of those companies have put out, they're really just-- the companies were just letting the customers, they'll hate we're doing this. -Yes, absolutely. -I mean, when the governments have figured out how they attack into the internet backbone. I guess it's only so much that you can do. In unfortunately interviews, these companies are the biggest players and it's hard to find services that are not these companies. -And I think you bring up a good point about privacy in these companies sort of asking-- -Oh sure. -customers give up privacy, right. -Oh sure. There's no small irony and the fact that these are companies that for years have really been pushing people to share more if not actively anti-privacy companies. And now, they're taking steps to ensure that if someone is gonna use your data, it's going to be them. -Uh huh. Not the government. -Not the government. -Okay. Well, Seth we will trust that you will keep us informed on this issue. Thanks so much. -Thank you. -For Inside Scoop, I'm Sumi Das. Thanks for watching.