According to those principles, governments should, among other things, limit surveillance to specific, known users rather than collect Internet communications in bulk; set up an independent court review system that includes an adversarial process; allow companies to publish the number and nature of government demands for user information; and permit the transfer of data across borders, working with other governments to resolve conflicts of legislation governing lawful requests for data.
According to Matthew Green, a cryptography research professor at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and one of the people who signed the letter, the joint statement is indicative of the trust the NSA has lost among academics.
"Up until 2013 if you'd asked most US security researchers for their opinions on NSA, you would, of course, have heard a range of views," Green said Saturday in a blog post. "But you also might have heard notes of (perhaps grudging) respect. This is because many of the NSA's public activities have been obviously in everyone's interest -- helping to fund research and secure our information systems."
Even when there was evidence of potential "unfair dealing" by the NSA, as in the case of Dual_EC_DRBG, most researchers dismissed the allegations as conspiracy theories, Green said. "We believed the NSA would stay between the lines. Putting backdoors into US information standards was possible, of course. But would they do it? We thought nobody would be that foolish. We were wrong."
Green feels that NSA's actions might have long-term implications for the society as a whole.
"Our economic and electronic security depend very much on the cooperation of academia, industry and private citizens," he said. "The NSA's actions have destroyed this trust. And ironically, that makes us all less safe."
Sign up for CIO Asia eNewsletters.