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Apple joins alliance of tech heavyweights to demand increased NSA transparency

Reportedly top-secret slide regarding the U.S. government's PRISM data mining program. | Source: The Washington Post

A group of tech titans, including Apple, Microsoft, Google, and Facebook, threw their substantial weight behind a civil rights alliance that will reportedly demand greater transparency regarding the U.S. government's surveillance programs.

Coming one month after a leak revealed the existence of America's PRISM data mining initiative, in which Apple supposedly played a small role, an alliance of 63 public companies, non-profit and trade organizations, and investors are calling for the government to make its operations more transparent. According to AllThingsD, the group will send a letter asking as much on Thursday.

“Basic information about how the government uses its various law enforcement–related investigative authorities has been published for years without any apparent disruption to criminal investigations,” reads a copy of the letter obtained by the publication. “We seek permission for the same information to be made available regarding the government’s national security–related authorities.”

In particular, the group is planning to ask President Barack Obama and select members of Congress to strip away restrictions that limit what information companies can divulge regarding government requests for sensitive data. Specifically, the alliance wants to have the option to issue disclosures about requests for user data made to Internet, phone, and Web service operators in the name of national security.

The alliance wants to be able to disclose the following: the number of government requests for user data; the number of individuals, accounts, or devices connected to said requests; and the number of requests looking for communications content, subscriber information, or other similar data.

Apple was reported to be a willing participant of PRISM in June, but the company released a public statement saying it had never heard of the program, denying that it grants server access to any U.S. agency.