Apple and Google ask Congress to support the USA Freedom Act
A group formed by Apple, Google, and other companies implicated in the disclosure of National Security Agency surveillance programs has asked the Senate to support the USA Freedom Act in an open letter. (The group has sent other letters in support of intelligence reform in the past.)
The effort is one of several to encourage the Senate to take advantage of its lame-duck session to pass meaningful reform before Republicans, who are more sympathetic to the government's surveillance programs than their Democratic counterparts, take control of Congress next year.
Another effort is meant to convince Sen. Mark Udall to read the Central Intelligence Agency's report on post-9/11 torture programs on the Senate floor before his replacement takes office. Udall would be able to finally reveal the report, which has been caught in a state of political limbo as Congress spars with the White House over proposed redactions, to the world at large.
It's easy to see why tech companies would want the USA Freedom Act to pass. In addition to blocking the bulk collection of metadata, the bill also allows companies to be more transparent about government data requests, which is what tech companies have wanted for the last year.
The USA Freedom Act has been criticized for not doing enough to curb the NSA's programs, but reform supporters would rather see a small change now than lose the chance to make any changes when Republicans take control of the government. Asking Udall to read the torture report aloud is similar in that it's a last-ditch effort to do the right thing before it's too late.
[illustration by Brad Jonas]