Sharp, growing protests against internet and phone surveillance

After google, microsoft now also officially insists on being allowed to publish the number of requests for user data from intelligence services. More than half a million people have joined a campaign calling for an end to government surveillance of the internet and telephone. Their rallying cry: "stop watching us".

On thursday, two weeks after the campaign began, the digital signature count stood at over 511,000. The action was started by mozilla, the developer of the firefox browser.

Among the most prominent signatories are chinese dissident and artist ai weiwei, web pioneer tim berners-lee and actor john cusack. Numerous civil rights organizations also joined the protest.

In an open letter on the stopwatching website.Us calls on u.S. Congress to stop internet and phone surveillance, disclose ausmab and hold those responsible accountable. "This type of blanket data collection scratches at the basic american values of freedom and privacy," the appeal states. This violated cornerstones of the constitution.

Microsoft, meanwhile, filed a request for disclosure with the court that handles intelligence requests under the foreign intelligence surveillance act, FISA. The company thus wants to correct the "misinformation" that "it was granting the u.S. Government direct access to its servers and thus indiscriminately passing on microsoft users’ data to the government," according to the letter of 19. June, which has now become public.

According to documents provided by ex-intelligence specialist edward snowden, microsoft has been working with the u.S. Intelligence community since 2007. Google, facebook, apple and yahoo were also named. All companies vehemently deny having given the U.S. Government a direct line to their computer systems. At the same time, they demanded the government’s release of further information on the hitherto top-secret inquiries.

Last week, microsoft had already published general information on government inquiries. Between july and december 2012, the company received between 6,000 and 7,000 requests for user data from government agencies. In addition to possible secret requests, this also includes all requests from local and supra-regional police authorities.

Microsoft and other internet companies such as facebook had already publicly called for greater transparency – also to protect their own business, which is based on the trust of users. That’s why microsoft wants to be allowed to publish the number of requests under the foreign intelligence act separately. Google had approached the court with the same demand.

The head of the online network twitter also called for more transparency, although his company has not been linked to the monitoring program. Twitter generally tries to resist "broad requests," dick costolo said at a conference, according to a report in the washington post. "We have a principled position on this, and we try not to cross that line."

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