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11 June 2013, 17:41

Mozilla, EFF and 86 others launch campaign against surveillance

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Under the banner, the Mozilla Foundation, the EFF and 86 other civil liberties organisations have launched a campaign that calls for "a full accounting of the extent to which our online data, communications and interactions are being monitored". In a blog posting, Alex Fowler, the leader of Mozilla's privacy and public policy team, explains the campaign is a response to the reports of the US government "requiring vast amounts of data from Internet and phone companies via top secret surveillance programs".

Fowler points out that although internet users' information can be exposed in various ways, such as over-sharing on social networks, the exposure that can come from governments, law enforcement and intelligence agencies gaining access to private data and the tracking information that others hold, is far more serious and something that is not that well understood. These government organisations can use court orders that require companies to share information with them "whether they like it or not" and, although Mozilla has yet to receive such an order, it is concerned that as it builds new services it could find itself in receipt of one.

Mozilla is, Fowler says, concerned that the internet has made it easier for governments to use these powers and that there is a lot of data available under broadly written laws. He also notes that there is no way of "knowing whether the current system is being abused, because it’s all happening behind closed doors".

The campaign centres around a letter to to US Congress which calls for reform to the US law to ensure that blanket surveillance of US residents is prohibited by law, for the creation of a committee to examine domestic spying and to hold public officials accountable "for this unconstitutional surveillance". The letter does not call for any reform of US law with regard to spying or broad surveillance of non-US residents, which has been the focus of concern for the European Union law makers and European politicians.

The full text of the letter and the initial signing organisations are listed on the EFF's blog posting. They include reddit, FreedomWorks, 4chan, Daily Kos, DuckDuckGo, the Free Software Foundation, Internet Archive, the ACLU and the World Wide Web Foundation.


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