A group representing Facebook Inc. (FB:US), Apple Inc. (AAPL:US) and other technology companies is lobbying Congress today as lawmakers prepare to vote on limits to U.S. National Security Agency spying, said a person familiar with the matter.
The Reform Government Surveillance Coalition, which also includes Yahoo Inc. (YHOO:US), has been trying to curb the ability of the U.S. to collect e-mails and other electronic data on Internet users, and to let companies publicly disclose details about government requests for such information. The person familiar with the talks asked not to be named since they weren’t authorized to speak publicly about the negotiations.
Lawmakers have introduced legislation to rein in U.S. spying in response to a backlash over the extent of government surveillance programs exposed by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. The House Judiciary Committee is scheduled to vote on its version of the legislation tomorrow. The House intelligence panel is scheduled to vote on a competing bill on May 8.
“Surveillance reform legislation must both limit the government’s authority to indiscriminately collect information, and let companies tell consumers how many and what types of government requests they receive,” according to a statement from the coalition. “We’ll continue working on these issues with the relevant committees and strongly urge Congress to enact these essential reforms.”
The two House bills differ over language limiting the NSA’s ability to collect e-mails and other digital data from Internet companies.
Neither bill would let companies disclose details about U.S. legal orders requiring them to turn over data about their users. However, lawmakers on the Judiciary Committee are trying to reach an agreement that would allow such disclosure when they consider the bill tomorrow, a panel aide said in an e-mail.
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