BBC News

Google: Online government surveillance could 'hit economy'

Google, Facebook, Twitter and Microsoft, among other leading technology firms, have said that the surveillance of the internet by governments across the world should be proportionate to the risks involved, which they believe it is not.

Kent Walker, the general counsel at Google, told the Today programme "the stakes could not be higher".

He described such surveillance as "a threat to free expression and privacy online" and suggested that it could result in a "hit to our global economy".

Brad Smith, the general counsel at Microsoft, explained that companies were now speaking out on the issue as the public "won't use technology that they don't trust".

"In our view, governments have put that trust at risk and governments need to help restore it," he continued.

First broadcast on BBC Radio 4's Today programme on Monday 9 December 2013.