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4668726_s featureRevelations of the surveillance programs of the National Security Agency (NSA) and the U.K. Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) have sparked technical innovations, legal challenges, and pursuits of political reforms in the United States and Britain.

According to HLS News Wire Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, along with other leading technology firms, have been implementing new policies to rebuild users’ confidence after disclosure that the NSA is capable of accessing the companies’ servers. At users’ requests, some companies have joined legal calls for the government to release information about NSA surveillance practices.

The Guardian reports that technology firm Lavabit, a secure e-mail provider used by Edward Snowden, ceased operation after the U.S. government requested a back door access into its systems. The founder of Lavabit, Ladar Levison, wrote on the company’s Web site: “I have been forced to make a difficult decision: to become complicit in crimes against the American people or walk away from nearly ten years of hard work by shutting down Lavabit.”

iHLS – Israel Homeland Security

Silent Circle, another communication encryption firm, ended its e-mail service operations to prevent government spying. The withdrawal from the market by a few secure e-mail service providers has prompted new startups. Mailpile recently crowdsourced more than $160,000 to build its encrypted mail software and keep data storage away from American servers.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), a U.S. government entity responsible for setting required security and encryption levels, has announced a full review of its standards to restore industry trust following concerns that the NSA had influenced the organization’s guidance.

The Guardian notes that the revelation of a classified court order against Verizon to release a collection of phone records of Verizon customers has led to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuits by two non-profits, Electronic Frontier Foundation, and Electronic Privacy Information Center. The lawsuits have led to the declassification of hundreds of pages revealing secret court rulings governing the Verizon court order, and occasions in which the court had found parts of the NSA program unconstitutional.