Google wants 2015 to be the year of surveillance reform


Surveillance needs a reform, few will argue against that. Even companies which make their bucks from watching users such as Facebook are calling for new measures to protect citizens from mass surveillance programs – such as those leaked by Edward Snowden earlier in the year.

Google is among the most vocal in pushing for government surveillance reform, and has updated their “Take Action” hub to feature a petition which individuals can sign to “help make the internet more secure for everyone.”

The USA Freedom Act failed to advance to a vote in the Senate after losing a procedural vote

In 2015, the USA Patriot Act is due to expire. A part of this law allows the American government to perform mass surveillance on its citizens. Internet denizens around the world have a chance when the act expires to get it changed to protect and treat internet users fairly before it is renewed in June.

Google notes, “In June of 2015, we have a huge chance to protect Americans from mass surveillance when a key part of the USA Patriot Act is set to expire.” The company goes on to state that “we need to be ready to take action this coming year.”

Throughout 2014, surveillance has been a consistent theme but little progress has been made in terms of reform. The USA Freedom Act failed to advance to a vote in the Senate after losing a procedural vote, thus ending any hope for reform this year of the NSA’s often-criticised practices regarding surveillance.

Google carries huge political weight these days, as evidenced by this analysis by The Washington Post. The company’s federal lobbying spending ranks alongside the biggest US corporations, and went from 213th place in 2004 to second place in 2012 with regards to expenditure. Needless to say, this represents a meteoric rise unlike any other company to mind.

We can hope the company’s weight – along with the support of those signing its petition – will be enough to create real reform change in 2015. Google hasn’t announced how many sign-ups it has received on its page, but claims that its “Take Action” campaign has more than three million members.

Are you in support of surveillance reform in 2015? Let us know in the comments.

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