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July 22, 2013

Big Tech Companies Petition White House Regarding PRISM

By Oliver VanDervoort, Contributing Writer

While the media coverage of the PRISM program may have died down over the last few weeks, the tech companies that have been caught up in the NSA’s spying program are still working hard to try and show that they were innocent victims in the whole mess.

The companies involved are well aware that most of the public isn’t going to buy these claims without something to back them up. That is why companies like AOL and Facebook (News - Alert), as well as Microsoft, are now appealing directly to President Obama for help.

An alliance of the top tech companies, known as the “Big Five,” has written a letter to the President and the leaders of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. In the letter, the companies are demanding that they be allowed to publish data about the secret demands that were made by the NSA when it came to use data. There are actually 46 different signatories that have signed on to the letter with Apple (News - Alert), AOL, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Yahoo.

The letter asks to publish specific numbers of requests that were made by the government under the Patriot (News - Alert) Act and Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). The six biggest companies that participated in the letter have been specifically named as participating in the PRISM project.

Twenty-two companies have signed on to the letter, while 24 pressure groups, including the ACLU, have also joined in this petition process. The groups have long been vocal in their criticism of the spying program.

One of the problems of PRISM is that the government has undercut itself when it comes to talking with other countries about Internet security. Late last week, a hearing of the House Judiciary Committee included a rather heated exchange in which the committee claimed that the White House and the NSA have overstepped their bounds. There is no information as to whether or not the letter is expected to have an impact.

Edited by Alisen Downey
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