Tech Giants Join Fight Against Mass Surveillance, Telcos Remain Indifferent


The following is a guest post.

With the cat out of the bag, courtesy of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, mass surveillance has become a popular debate on all forums. Questions are being raised about the legality and extend of snooping by the government security agencies. Furthermore, the trust that the general populace had in Google, Facebook, Apple and the likes has been eroding ever since reports about major companies being contacted by NSA surfaced. The 2013 mass surveillance disclosures have turned out to be nothing short of a storm, one that doesn’t look like it’d die anytime soon.

The unwavering resolve

Unfazed by the strong reaction not just in the US but around the world, the security agencies continue to engage in with what they describe as necessary measures for protecting national security. According to recent revelations, the surveillance program is penetrating the fantasy worlds of online role-playing games, cataloging the Internet, particularly porn-surfing, habits of people, and making a determined effort to crack Tor, a service that lets Internet users surf the web anonymously. It appears that the snooping of NSA and its likes knows no limits.

The giants step into the fight

In a bid to dissipate the dark clouds that have appeared over the public since the 2013 mass surveillance disclosures, eight of the tech giants, namely Google, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, Yahoo, Twitter, AOL and LinkedIn,  have set their differences aside and rallied together to spearhead the government with the demand for surveillance reforms.

Challenging the US lawmakers in an open letter published both on the Internet and as full-page ads in major newspapers such as the New York Times and the Washington Post, the tech giants have laid down the accusation that the government has gone too far with their surveillance and stripped the citizens of their basic rights enshrined in the Constitution, a violation that is becoming a global trend.reform

The companies have asked the Obama government and the Congress to set an example by returning to people their sense of privacy and freedom. Rather than completely rejecting the surveillance that the government is ostensibly carrying out for national security, the tech giants have demanded for reforms that would ensure that the government’s efforts to protect citizens do not go beyond the constitutional boundaries.

The snooping ways of the NSA and other secret agencies have begun to make the concept of privacy seem like a bygone concept, with the general populace ever-present on the government’s radar, a realization that has spread both anxiety and panic.

Since trust is the foundation on which the relationship between tech giants and customers exists, the growing paranoia among the masses has been taking its toll on this relationship as well.

While it’s difficult to say whether the tech giants are motivated by economic self-interest or civil virtue to stand against the surveillance policies of the government, they have made it clear to both the general public as well as the government whose side they are on.

The silent spectator

The letter being advertised on all major platforms and signed by eight of world’s top tech companies is notably missing the signatures of telecommunications companies, or telcos.

Considering the close relationship they have shared with the state, the silence of telcos on mass surveillance is hardly shocking. After all, they have a long history of aiding security agencies in their endeavors. Furthermore, many of these companies are state owned, whereas those which are not are subjected to government regulations.

Despite all this, the indifference shown by telcos towards the snooping activities of the NSA and other security agencies attracts attention. It too has been affected by the growing paranoia and anxiety among the general population and it too will continue to suffer the consequences unless it makes an effort to rebuild the shattered confidence of people.

With tech companies joining the people in their protest against the snooping activities of security agencies, the government and Congress may find it harder to suppress the issue any further. Furthermore, it will help Google, Facebook and the likes to restore people’s faith in them and continue to flourish.

Alyssa Tailor reports and writes on almost every technology related topic, contributing to many tech sites, such as Her special focus is on business apps, wireless technology, mobile phone security and social media. Alyssa considers that a perfect design is an outcome of both form and function working in harmony.