It is rare for companies like Google and Microsoft, LinkedIn and Facebook to partner up on any kind of initiative, but the Edward Snowden leaks have changed the way that the world is viewed. News that agencies, and agents, from the US and UK government habitually snooped on people as they went about their daily online business, often without any legal oversight, has sent waves through the world.
Things have changed to such an extent that eight of the world’s biggest companies, typically at loggerheads with one another, have joined forces. Google, Microsoft, AOL, Yahoo, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Apple have created a coalition of sorts; a coalition that is tasked with bringing governments to task.
- The group have outlined five reform principles that they want US congress to follow.
- The government’s authority should be limited, and they should only be permitted to search information on known users, rather than collecting information on bulk users.
- Reviewing courts should be established, that are independent, and these should be accountable. Agencies wishing to collect data should do so under a defined legal framework.
- Governments should release information on the data they have requested, and the companies they have requested data from should be allowed to do the same.
- The group also want information to be freely available across borders. Organisations should not have to have infrastructure within a country to be able to pass or receive information in that country.
- A single, global framework should be established that will prevent any contradictions in legislation for different countries.
According to a number of newspapers including the Times, agency snooping has been carried out on people that play online games too. Players from the UK and US have had their online activity monitored by the NSA while playing World of Warcraft, and even while chatting on Xbox Live. On Second Life, the problem is so bad, that a special group has been set up to prevent the spies from targeting and spying on one another.
Agents from around the world worry that game universes like World of Warcraft and Second Life are being used by terrorists to recruit others, to plan attacks, and even for some terrorist training activity.