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Apple, Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter call for transparency on NSA spying

Apple, Google, Facebook, Microsoft are part of a broad alliance of technology companies and civil liberties groups that will demand dramatically increased transparency around U.S. government surveillance efforts.

In a letter published Thursday, the alliance — whose members include 63 companies, investors, non-profits and trade organizations — will call upon President Obama and congressional leaders to allow Internet, telephone, and Web-based service providers to report national security-related requests for information with greater specificity. Specifically, they ask that they are allowed to regularly report:

     • 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.

'Information about how and how often the government is using these legal authorities is important to the American people.'

- Coalition letter

The coalition also asks that the government begin issuing a transparency report of its own that provides essentially the same information — the total number of information requests made and the number of individuals affected by each.

“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,” a copy of the letter obtained by AllThingsD reads

“We seek permission for the same information to be made available regarding the government’s national security -- related authorities. This information about how and how often the government is using these legal authorities is important to the American people, who are entitled to have an informed public debate about the appropriateness of those authorities and their use.”

Read more about the tech alliance's plans at AllThingsD.com.