OTI Calls U.K./U.S. Surveillance Plan 'Betrayal'

New America’s Open Technology Institute (OTI) called on the Obama Administration to back off a plan to let the U.K. serve wiretap order directly on a Google or Facebook in order to surveil online conversations or access stored e-mails of British suspects in terror investigations.

OTI suggested the drafters of the Constitution would not be pleased.

New America is a nonprofit tech think tank. It's board is chaired by Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Alphabet (formerly Google).

The Washington Post broke the story of the negotiations between the U.S. and U.K.

That comes just as the U.S. and the European Union have just struck an agreement on a new voluntary safe harbor for EU citizen data stored in the U.S. by companies like Google and Facebook, an agreement necessitated by EU's concerns over company’s ability to secure that data’s privacy given the Edward Snowden leak revelations about government surveillance.

“The idea that the U.S. government would allow wiretapping inside the United States by a foreign country’s national security authorities under legal standards that are far lower than what is required of our own police, is a horrible betrayal of our constitutional principles," said OTI director Kevin Bankston "I can only expect that our founders, who wrote the Constitution that this deal disregards, are rolling in their graves."

OTI said Congress should press the White House to rethink that plan. "We call on lawmakers who care about privacy—both from the left and the right—to tell the Obama Administration that they will not stand for it," said Bankston.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.