Mark Zuckerberg, who has already gone on the record as saying that the government "blew it," is one of the signatories.

AOL's Tim Armstrong is one of the seven who feels that the extent of the NSA's reach "undermines the freedoms that we all cherish."

Seven of the firms' heads have called for a five-point plan to change the way that users' data has been given the once-over by the security chiefs. It is up to the U.S., argues Larry Page, to lead the way.

The five points include limiting the government's authority to collect information, improving oversight and accountability, being transparent about its demands, respecting the free flow of information, and "avoiding conflict among governments."

Dick Costolo's firm, Twitter, is suppressed in many overseas territories. Surveillance, he argues, will stop people saying what they really think on his medium. And there is an obvious consequence to this...

...something that only Brad Smith was brave enough to voice. If there is no trust, these tech products won't be used. If they're not used, less revenue for the firms and, indirectly, the government.

Reform of surveillance laws, hope the eight firms, will be a global affair rather than being limited to certain territories. "Where the laws of one jurisdiction conflict with the laws of another, it is incumbent upon governments to work together to resolve the conflict."

Eight Tech Giants Call On The Government To Reform Surveillance Laws

"It's time for a change," say the firms, which include Facebook, Apple, Microsoft, Google, and Twitter.

Eight of the biggest tech firms in the U.S. have written an open letter to President Obama and Congress calling for a repeal of government surveillance laws. Twitter, AOL, Yahoo, Facebook, Microsoft, Google, LinkedIn, and Apple are all signatories of the letter, which appears on the reformgovernmentsurveillance.com website.

"We understand that governments have a duty to protect their citizens," begins the letter. "But this summer’s revelations highlighted the urgent need to reform government surveillance practices worldwide. The balance in many countries has tipped too far in favor of the state and away from the rights of the individual -- rights that are enshrined in our Constitution."

Oddly enough, the Apple logo doesn't appear at the top of the site's homepage, nor is there any Apple representative quoted alongside Google's Larry Page, Tim Armstrong (AOL), Mark Zuckerberg, Erika Rottenberg of LinkedIn, Brad Smith (Microsoft), Dick Costolo (Twitter), and Marissa Mayer (Yahoo!).

An unforeseen consequence (but thoroughly logical, when you come to think of it) is that the morale of NSA workers has dipped. According to a story in the Washington Post, former NSA inspector general Joel Brenner is quoted as saying, "They feel they've been hung out to dry, and they're right."

[Image: Flickr user erokism]

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