Google Asks Users To Demand Congress Pass Real Surveillance Reform

from the more-companies-need-to-speak-out dept

As we’ve mentioned, the USA Freedom Act — which had been the “good” bill to reform some of the NSA’s domestic spying activities — was completely watered down right before it passed the House. Basically the entire civil liberties community pulled their support for the bill at the last minute once they saw the changes that the White House demanded (even after the bill had already been watered down). What got a little less attention was that many in the tech industry had also dropped their support for the bill, despite earlier supporting it.

With the fight to fix the bill now moving to the Senate, Google has apparently decided to ramp up its activism on getting a much better bill out there. Google’s main Twitter account announced that it wants real reform and linked people to a “take action” page that trashes the bill that passed the House and asks people to sign on to support real reform in the Senate:

It’s been a year since Edward Snowden shocked the world with his deeply troubling revelations about the extent of U.S. government surveillance.

The House of Representatives just passed a bill called the USA FREEDOM Act. That bill was designed to prevent the bulk collection of Internet data (e.g., who you email and who emails you) by the U.S. Government. This kind of surveillance — where data may be collected for no specific intelligence purpose and without effective judicial oversight — runs counter to our democratic principles.

Unfortunately, as the bill made its way through Congress, the text was watered down so badly that it will not prevent bulk Internet data collection. For example, as the bill stands today it could still permit the collection of email records from everyone who uses a particular email service. As the legislation moves over to the Senate, it is critical that this loophole be closed. We need real surveillance reform urgently.

If the Senate is actually going to resist the White House’s demands for a watered down bill, we’re going to need a lot more partnerships like this: companies and individuals together speaking out about how bulk surveillance by the NSA is simply unacceptable. The NSA has already managed to poison the well for tech companies overseas by basically telling the world that their data is simply not secure. These companies and their customers and users need to let the government know that this needs to stop now. Hoping, quietly, that these issues will go away isn’t going to do the trick. Hopefully more companies will speak up as well.

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Companies: google

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Comments on “Google Asks Users To Demand Congress Pass Real Surveillance Reform”

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vancedecker (profile) says:


Interesting, I found that one of the links on the web site says: PAST ACTIONS

I was ready to sign up! Then I learned the ‘Past Actions’ menu item did not include freedom from having your silly past actions from childhood reposted and indexed by google for the rest of your life. Yet another crappy ill defined user interface, care of the idiot savants at Google.

Does google support my freedom from some company intrusively collecting and then dispersing my information into an electronic diaspora?

Probably not. Until then, google can go shove it.

Ninja (profile) says:


Really? That’s what the Germans were trying and it does not work. Once your supposedly childish actions are online people can report on them, opine on them and so on. If the town around you gets to know you were in love with some goat you can do whatever you want but nothing will prevent “having your silly past actions from childhood reposted and” discussed by people. While I do agree with you that it makes it much easier for employers and others to sort you out with that the implications of allowing such idea to move ahead and making providers face liability for something uncontrollable would be devastating.

Ninja (profile) says:


Spying? What does it have to do with this? So that awkward picture from that party went to Google via some colleague and because of it Google is spying on you now? Or that stupidity you did as a kid your aunt posted online?

The only thing Google, Facebook and the likes did was provide a much broader and faster channel for things to spread around. Your aunt can still tell your friend who can tell to friends of friends of friends. You can’t erase your past. Live with it. What could be done and should be done is that people spreading false information about you should get their time in the courts. The starting ones not those reproducing the thing and then those that started should be forced to issue apologies and retract themselves very, very publicly. But I’d think defamation laws already work for those cases.

Anonymous Coward says:


The more I think about the idea of Google hiding search results the worse it seems. Consider, doing so requires Google to build a database of links to be removed from its search results, identifying who requested the removal. That is just the information governments, corporations and bad guys want, people confirming that it is them in the referred to pages. It would be a way of giving those in power to hide embarrassing stuff from the public and making it easy for them to find it on anybody challenging their power.

John Fenderson (profile) says:


“Does google support my freedom from some company intrusively collecting and then dispersing my information into an electronic diaspora?”

I don’t know, but seriously, what do you expect Google to do about this? Google is not the internet and does not exert control over the actions of other websites and companies.

Anonymous Coward says:

although i agree that we need a serious reform bill against the surveillance, i think Google is one of the last companies to be asking people to sort this out. what the fuck does Google do to help the people? it has the muscle, both financially and size, to put up against the entertainment industries and fight on the side of the people to get the ridiculous, constant winging from those industries stopped! and what have they done? sweet fuck all, as is usual from Google. it sits back, thumbs up arses, brains in neutral, doing fat nothing! and what happens when Google needs to be contacted over some discrepancy, some mistake, some injustice that it has performed because it lets ‘automated actions’ take over from people or people just dont want to put themselves out for the customers. absolutely fuck all!! until you realise and acknowledge that you are what you are because of customers and start listening to, acting on behalf of, and aiding them, people are gonna say, get on with it! sort it out yourself! we ask for help over something from you and you tell us to take a hike! now you do the same!!

Mr. Oizo says:

Irony alert

Just _assume_ for a moment that Google is a frontend for the NSA. Of course they would like to convince everyone that they want ‘real’ reform. However, they are in the business of gathering all that information and using it however they please. Just redirecting people to ‘take action’ feels like they are washing their hands clean.

mar says:

The hell?

I honestly don’t understand people’s complaints about Google for this.

I remember back when Google was really starting out that there were services everywhere that spied on me and sold the data to data brokers. But Google didn’t do that and still doesn’t. While I am uncomfortable that Google has so much info on me, at least I can be comfortable in the fact that they aren’t feeding my data to companies like LexisNexis. Y’know, one of the companies that sells very detailed profiles on you to anyone who pays them. Google on the other hand just sells the promise of relevant eyeballs to companies.

Also – if the NSA makes a mistake, you could be put on a list that would make your life a living hell. If Google makes a mistake, you’re shown an irrelevant advertisement.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: The hell?

“In fairness, that’s because Google is a company like LexisNexis. They wouldn’t feed data to their competition.”

No, no they are not. LexisNexis will actually sell your personal data to a bunch of different companies. Google will not. Google sells the promise of your eyeballs to companies wanting to advertise to you. It does not sell your actual data.

Anonymous Coward says:

"Prevent bulk collection of Internet data"? You first, Google.

More pablum from a company whose business is collecting and selling data about its users, intended to further the lie that there is more than one kind of mass surveillance.

“If these vast databases are valuable enough, it doesn’t matter who they belong to. The government will always find a way to query them. Who pays for the servers is just an implementation detail.”

Yes, the new USA FREEDOM Act is worse than the old. Yes, it would be nice to have a better law to curb the surveillance state problem (if we could trust the government to abide by it, which experience shows we cannot). But any law which will actually solve the problem must necessarily hit Google where it hurts, because the only way to stop personal data from becoming problematic later on is not to store it.

wallyb132 (profile) says:


you people that are comparing what google does to what the NSA is doing are completely fucking clueless. And those of you that are putting the depth of information collected by google on the same level as that of the NSA are not only clueless you’re fucking retarded too.

And those of you complaining about Google not standing up to the like of abusive companies or organizations are also fucking clueless. You need to get out more. Google has a history of fighting every subpoena it receives for personal information that it can legally fight, You cant blame them for situations involving the FBI and NSL’s or other situations where they have been ordered by a secret court to give information.

And in the post Snowden world, google has been going to great lengths to both advocate for and protect personal and private information.

People, please get a clue about what whats going on around you.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Clueless

So I highly suggest you crawl out from underneath your rock and Google (irony!) “Google and NSA”.

They’ve been helping them out thoroughly while publicly claiming they were not.

?Google Idea’s director Jared Cohen was tasked with getting Afghan telcos to move towers to US bases when at DoS,?

Hypocrite much?

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