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Eight major U.S. web companies, including Apple, Google and Facebook, made a joint call Monday for tighter controls on how governments collect personal data, intensifying the furor over online surveillance. In an open letter to President Barack Obama and Congress, the companies said recent revelations showed the balance had tipped too far in favor of the state and away from the individual in many countries. The letter from the eight firms which also included Microsoft, Twitter, LinkedIn , Yahoo and AOL, read in part - "We understand that governments have a duty to protect their citizens but this summer's revelations highlighted the urgent need to reform government surveillance practices worldwide." Several of the eight companies have also publicized their decision to boost encryption and security on their sites.