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Five Principles of the Reform Government Surveillance Movement

Five Principles of the Reform Government Surveillance Movement

In a recent blog, we introduced you to an important bill currently in Congress designed to protect consumer and business data stored in servers around the world. With the rise of technology and the lack of regulatory evolution to match, data stored abroad is protected by a law signed during the Cold War, and is subsequently protected by inadequate measures.

The Law Enforcement Access to Data Stored Abroad (LEADS) Act was introduced after a September 2015 U.S. Court of Appeals hearing, where Microsoft challenged the U.S.’s request for private data held in Ireland, the U.S. government asserted its right and even the right of other nations to access data beyond national borders.

Brittenford CTO Ryan Risley discussed this issue in a recent Brittenford blog introducing the LEADS Act, demonstrating why it matters, and what you can do to help get it passed. Today, thanks to the Microsoft website, Reform Government Surveillance, we’d like to share with you the principles behind the Reform Government Surveillance movement, and the importance of governments taking steps to protect their citizens’ safety and security.

Five Ways Reform Government Surveillance is Working for Your Privacy:

Protecting the privacy of users in an age of servers working together across the globe requires specific laws to ensure international standards are met. Reform Government Surveillance is based on five principles:

Limiting Governments’ Authority to Collect Users’ Information

Governments should codify sensible limitations on their ability to compel service providers to disclose user data that balance their need for the data in limited circumstances, users’ reasonable privacy interests, and the impact on trust in the Internet. In addition, governments should limit surveillance to specific, known users for lawful purposes, and should not undertake bulk data collection of Internet communications.

Oversight and Accountability

Intelligence agencies seeking to collect or compel the production of information should do so under a clear legal framework in which executive powers are subject to strong checks and balances. Reviewing courts should be independent and include an adversarial process, and governments should allow important rulings of law to be made public in a timely manner so that the courts are accountable to an informed citizenry.

Transparency About Government Demands

Transparency is essential to a debate over governments’ surveillance powers and the scope of programs that are administered under those powers. Governments should allow companies to publish the number and nature of government demands for user information. In addition, governments should also promptly disclose this data publicly.

Respecting the Free Flow of Information

The ability of data to flow or be accessed across borders is essential to a robust 21st century global economy. Governments should permit the transfer of data and should not inhibit access by companies or individuals to lawfully available information that is stored outside of the country. Governments should not require service providers to locate infrastructure within a country’s borders or operate locally.

Avoiding Conflicts Among Governments

In order to avoid conflicting laws, there should be a robust, principled, and transparent framework to govern lawful requests for data across jurisdictions, such as improved mutual legal assistance treaty — or “MLAT” — processes. Where the laws of one jurisdiction conflict with the laws of another, it is incumbent upon governments to work together to resolve the conflict.

What You Can Do

Head over to Reform Government Surveillance, read the open letter to Congress signed by leaders including those at Microsoft, Apple, Google, Facebook, AOL, Dropbox, Evernote, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Yahoo. Learn about the fight to protect your privacy with the LEADS Act at Voices for Innovation, and take action at the Voices for Innovation Action Center:

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