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Reform Internet Company Surveillance - .com

The undersigned users on the Internet believe that it is time for the world’s Internet companies to address the practices and laws regulating Internet companies' surveillance of their users and access to their information.

While the undersigned users understand that Internet companies need to take action to protect their citizens’ safety and security and their own ability to raise funding and differentiate in a free market, we strongly believe that current laws and practices need to be reformed.

Consistent with established global norms of free expression and privacy and with the goals of ensuring that marketing and data intelligence efforts are rule-bound, narrowly tailored, transparent, and subject to oversight, we hereby call on Internet companies to endorse the following principles and enact reforms that would put these principles into action.

1 - Limiting Internet Companies’ Authority to Collect Users Information

Internet Companies should codify sensible limitations on their ability to compel users to disclose their 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, Internet Companies should limit surveillance to specific, known users for marketing purposes with full disclosure, and should not undertake bulk data collection of user activity.

2 - Oversight and Accountability

Internet Companies seeking to collect or compel the production of information should do so under a clear legal framework in which implied opt-in powers are subject to strong checks and balances. Reviewing advisory boards should be independent and include an adversarial process, and Internet companies should allow important rulings of law to be made public in a timely manner so that the companies' are accountable to an informed user base.

3 - Transparency About Investor/Board Demands

Transparency is essential to a debate over Internet companies’ surveillance powers and the scope of efforts (marketing, fund raising or otherwise) that are administered under those powers. Companies should publish the number and nature of marketing uses for user information. In addition, governments should also promptly disclose this data publicly.

4 - 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. Companies should permit the transfer of data and should not inhibit access by companies or individuals to lawfully available information that is stored within proprietary data stores. Companies should not require users to lock their data in locally.

5 - Avoiding Conflicts Among Internet Companies

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

 
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