Obama meets again with tech CEOs on privacy issues
March 21st, 2014
09:05 AM ET
5 months ago

Obama meets again with tech CEOs on privacy issues

Updated 7:43 p.m. ET, 3/21/2014

(CNN) - President Barack Obama met with tech company chief executives on Friday as a part of the administration's dialogue with the private sector on "issues surrounding intelligence, technology and privacy," according to the White House.

"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 in a readout of the meeting, which was closed to reporters.

The statement also said Obama updated CEOs on the administration's "comprehensive 'big data' review," which they describe in part as an analysis of the relationship between government and citizens, led by adviser John Podesta.

The meeting comes more than two months after Obama's January speech on proposed changes to the National Security Agency.

Among those who attended the meeting was Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, who called the President last week to express frustration about the government's spying and hacking programs.

"When our engineers work tirelessly to improve security, we imagine we're protecting you against criminals, not our own government," Zuckerberg wrote in a Facebook post.

His concerns are based on the latest investigative report from The Intercept, journalist Glenn Greenwald's site, which says that the NSA has weaponized the Internet, making it possible to inject bad software into innocent peoples' computers en masse.

The report is based on documents provided by ex-NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

After the White House meeting, Facebook said Zuckerberg and the President had an "honest" discussion but that the administration's reforms haven't gone far enough to curb government intrusion on the Internet

"People around the globe deserve to know that their information is secure and Facebook will keep urging the US Government to be more transparent about its practices and more protective of civil liberties," a Facebook spokeswoman said in a statement.

Others attending the White House meeting included CEOs Reed Hastings of Netflix; Drew Houston of Dropbox; Dr. Alexander Karp of Palantir; Aaron Levie of Box and Eric Schmidt, the executive chairman of Google.

The meeting also comes as potential GOP presidential candidate Rand Paul, a senator from Kentucky, is suing the Obama administration for its phone metadata collection that the NSA says it uses for counterterrorism efforts.

In his January speech, Obama outlined a series of steps – some immediate and some requiring time to work out, possibly with Congress – that would change some aspects of the NSA collection of phone records and other information but generally leave intact the core and function of existing programs.

"The United States is not spying on ordinary people who don't threaten our national security" Obama said, adding that, "unless there is a compelling national security purpose, we will not monitor the communications of heads of state and government of our close friends and allies."

CNN's Jim Acosta, Jose Pagliery, Tom Cohen, Ashley Killough and Dana Davidsen contributed to this report.


Filed under: Facebook • President Obama • White House
soundoff (8 Responses)
  1. Lizzie

    "The United States is not spying on ordinary people who don't threaten our national security" Obama said, adding that, "unless there is a compelling national security purpose, we will not monitor the communications of heads of state and government of our close friends and allies."
    German chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Francois Hollande, apparently are just 2 who threaten our Natl. security

    March 21, 2014 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  2. Tampa Tim

    According to German reports, the US began spying on Germany's Merkel in 2002. That rascal Obama, . . . Oh wait. . . Who was in charge in 2002?

    March 21, 2014 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  3. Rick McDaniel

    The government will NEVER stop spying on all of us. They do it for political purposes.

    March 21, 2014 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  4. Tampa Tim

    Rick – if you walk into a store, and everyone stops what they are doing and look at you, but that has nothing to do with government.

    March 21, 2014 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  5. Silence DoGood

    @Rick McDaniel
    The government will NEVER stop spying on all of us. They do it for political purposes.
    ----------
    Only political? Let's compare:
    Obama killed terrorists in their own bases using intelligence properly.
    Bush let 9/11 happen and invaded a place without terrorists because he ignored and lied about intelligence.

    March 21, 2014 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  6. Rudy NYC

    Rick McDaniel

    The government will NEVER stop spying on all of us. They do it for political purposes.
    --------------------
    You must speak for yourself.

    Most of the surveillance is done for national security. Don't you remember the major fuss the right wing made last year concerning the Bostom Marathon bombers? The right wing's major complaint was the government should have discovered the men ahead of time using the very practices that you're complaining about.

    March 21, 2014 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  7. Anonymous

    Take away our national security and see how far America can protect itself. The days of Cowboys and Indians is long over. Rand Paul and his cronies might have well sustained bunkers equipped with tinfoil antenna to hideout in but in the real world the only thing keeping America safe is the NSA, the CIA, and other governmental organizations. America is not and never can be an isolationist country. We are becoming our own worst enemy.

    March 21, 2014 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  8. Lizzie

    Silence DoGood, not to count the civilians, but according to the administration there are NO civilians.

    March 21, 2014 11:38 am at 11:38 am |