Trending: Regulation is coming: How startups should be thinking about data, security and privacy
Brad Smith, Microsoft general counsel
Brad Smith, Microsoft general counsel

While they’re usually fierce competitors, an octet of leading technology companies have banded together to ask the U.S. to take the lead when it comes to ending government surveillance.

AOL, Apple, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Twitter and Yahoo have written an open letter addressed to President Barack Obama and members of Congress, asking for significant reforms when it comes to government surveillance of technology.

They write, in part, “We urge the US to take the lead and make reforms that ensure that government surveillance efforts are clearly restricted by law, proportionate to the risks, transparent and subject to independent oversight.”

The letter comes amid ongoing disclosures from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden about the NSA’s far-reaching electronic surveillance, which have included a number of programs exploiting a number of widely-used platforms. In response, companies have tried to harden their own systems against the attacks, and now, they’re taking their fight to America’s political apparatus.

Part of the reason behind the move is that for tech companies that rely on the trust of their users in order to do their business, the NSA’s surveillance has proven problematic.

“People won’t use technology they don’t trust. Governments have put this trust at risk, and governments need to help restore it,” said Brad Smith, Microsoft’s General Counsel and Executive Vice President for Legal and Corporate Affairs in a press release.

Mark Zuckerberg, who has been an outspoken critic of the NSA’s programs, said that the U.S. government has a responsibility to lead the way when it comes to reining in surveillance.

“Reports about government surveillance have shown there is a real need for greater disclosure and new limits on how governments collect information. The US government should take this opportunity to lead this reform effort and make things right,” the Facebook CEO said in a press release.

To view the letter in full, visit

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