Policy + charging

Silence of the ISPs

Several of the largest US technology companies have banded together to send a letter to Congress and President Barack Obama asking for tighter constraints on how the federal government can collect personal data.

That there are no major broadband service provider signatures at the end of this letter should come as no surprise.

The letter was signed by eight Internet-related giants -- Google, Apple, Facebook, Twitter, Microsoft, Yahoo, LinkedIn, and AOL. I don't know if any telcos or cable TV companies were asked to join the group or not, but service providers such as AT&T Inc. have already made it pretty clear that they are not going to push back against federal government data collection requests.

In fact, according to an Associated Press report last week, AT&T will not even explain its actions to its own concerned shareholders.

Let's not champion the latest efforts by Google, Apple, and the rest too loudly, since they could have done something like this much earlier, long before it became clear that revelations about the National Security Agency collecting user data from service providers and web firms would not go away. Still, this letter does more in a single stroke than the likes of AT&T have managed to come up with since the spying scandal started. It also puts some focus back on the NSA activities after we have too easily become distracted by the incessant targeting of Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd.. (See Another Day, Another Domestic Spying Revelation; US Senators Stir Up Huawei Security Concerns; and Here Come the WiFi Drones.)

Asking for stricter rules to govern collections of personal data in the future is not even the same thing as taking a stand against the such activities. Nor is it a full explanation of what really happened and how to protect users whose data was collected.

Yet, these other tech giants are trying to do something, symbolic as it may be, while broadband service providers continue to sit silently on the sidelines.

— Dan O'Shea, Managing Editor, Light Reading

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