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Apple, Facebook, Google and Microsoft call for NSA transparency

A coalition of tech companies, investor and advocacy groups will call on President Obama and congressional leaders on Thursday to provide more transparency about government surveillance programs, according to a letter obtained by AllThingsD.

Companies like Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Twitter will ask to be able to disclose the details of national security request for information that are presumably protected by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).

According to AllThingsD, the letter to be sent will ask for:

  • The number of government requests for information about their users
  • The number of individuals, accounts, or devices for which information was requested
  • The number of requests that sought communications content, basic subscriber information, and/or other information.

On June 6, the Guardian and the Washington Post reported that the NSA and FBI had a direct line to the central servers of Apple, AOL, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Paltalk, Skype, Yahoo and YouTube -- as part of a surveillance program called PRISM.

All of the companies havedenied the allegations. Apple, Microsoft and Facebook were granted permission to release more details on FISA requestsand national security letters, but only if aggregated with criminal requests from local, state and federal law enforcement. Yahoo recently won a request to declassify court documents that demonstrate that the company "objected strenuously" to providing customer data to the government.

Other companies that have signed the letter include: AOL, Dropbox, LinkedIn, Mozilla, Reddit, Yahoo, Union Square Ventures, Y Combinator, The Electronic Frontier Foundation, Human Rights Watch, The American Civil Liberties Union, Reporters Without Borders and The Wikimedia Foundation, AllThingsD reports.