Obama meets internet firms executives to talk NSA surveillance

Obama meets internet firms executives to talk NSA surveillance

PanARMENIAN.Net - Executives of several large U.S. internet companies, including Facebook Inc and Google, met President Barack Obama on Friday, March 21, to discuss their concerns over government surveillance programs, the Guardian reported.

Obama and senior aides met six tech executives to discuss issues surrounding intelligence, technology and privacy, the White House said in a statement following the meeting.

Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Google, the world's largest Internet search engine; Mark Zuckerberg, chief executive officer of Facebook, the world's biggest social network; and Reed Hastings, chief executive officer of Netflix Inc, an online video streaming service, were among those attending the meeting, the White House said.

Other attendees were Aaron Levie and Drew Houston, chief executive officers of two online storage and file-sharing companies Box and Dropbox; and Alex Karp, chief executive officer of Palantir Technologies, a data-mining company which is partly backed by the CIA and whose clients include the National Security Agency, according to the Guardian.

The president sought to provide reassurances that the administration is putting in place reforms to intelligence collection after revelations of widespread collection of data stirred outrage.

"The president reiterated his administration's commitment to taking steps that can give people greater confidence that their rights are being protected while preserving important tools that keep us safe," the White House said.

But Facebook's Zuckerberg, a public critic of government data gathering practices, said that more needed to be done.

"While the U.S. government has taken helpful steps to reform its surveillance practices, these are simply not enough," he said through a spokesperson.

"People around the globe deserve to know that their information is secure and Facebook will keep urging the U.S. government to be more transparent about its practices and more protective of civil liberties," he said.

Obama in January outlined a series of limited reforms to NSA data gathering, banning eavesdropping on the leaders of friendly or allied nations and proposing some changes to how NSA treats Americans' phone data.

The most sweeping program, collection of telephone "metadata," comes up for reauthorization next week, on March 28.

Some of the largest U.S. technology companies, including Google, its rival Yahoo Inc, social networking site Twitter Inc and others, have been pushing for more transparency, oversight and restrictions to US government's gathering of intelligence.

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