A group of seven Internet companies are trying to defend the privacy of their users, as this week the United States House of Representatives is reviewing the law USA FREEDOM Reauthorization Act for 2020.
The companies Mozilla, Engine, Reddit, Reform Government Surveillance, Twitter, i2Coalition and Patreon have called on four U.S. lawmakers to explicitly ban unauthorized collection of Internet search and browsing history.
"Search and browsing history is still being collected and stored on the web. We believe that this data deserves strong legal protection when the government seeks access to it, but in many cases this protection is uncertain. "
In a letter [PDF] to the four members of the US House of Representatives, the group said that privacy and security are essential for the economy, business and the continued development of a free and open internet.
"Congress can help maintain user trust and facilitate continued use of the Internet as a strong contribution to our recovery," the team said.
The companies said the search and browsing history can provide a detailed portrait of the internet users' privacy and can reveal very sensitive information such as medical conditions, religious beliefs and personal relationships. Thus it should be protected by effective legal safeguards.
The Senate recently considered an amendment to address the concerns raised by the group in its letter. They stated that the amendment would explicitly prohibit the use of Article 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act for the meaningless collection of search and browsing history.
"Congress must seize this opportunity to resolve any potential ambiguities and provide strong legal protections for the entire search and browsing history."