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Tech Companies Issue Loud Call For Surveillance Transparency

A Ukrainian activist protests the NSA Internet surveillance program.

Apple, Google, Microsoft and a broad coalition of major tech companies are making a loud call for greater government disclosure of digital communications monitoring.

In a letter out today, an alliance of 63 companies and groups are calling for dramatically increased transparency around U.S. government surveillance efforts. This comes as the companies -- and individual Americans -- continue to grapple with recent revelations of a sweeping surveillance program led by the National Security Agency.

(Read the full letter.)

The alliance, which also includes investors and trade organizations -- asks for Internet and communications service providers to report national security-related requests with specificity.

In the letter addressed to President Obama, National Intelligence Director James Clapper, Attorney General Eric Holder and congressional leaders, they've asked 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.

* And the number of requests that sought communications content, basic subscriber information and/or other information.

The coalition also asks that the government begin issuing a transparency report of its own, and in it, provide similar information -- the total number of requests made and the number of individuals affected by each.

You may notice that no hosting providers like Amazon Web Services or Go Daddy have co-signed the letter. Also absent are payment processors like Visa and Mastercard. We're reaching out to these companies and will update with their input.

Click to read the full letter.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit www.npr.org.

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