Tech CEOs Meet Obama at White House Amid Privacy Concerns

Friday, 21 Mar 2014 04:54 PM

By Joe Battaglia

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Many of the most powerful CEOs in the tech world were at the White House on Friday for another meeting with President Obama over his administration's handling of privacy issues and surveillance.

According to White House press secretary Jay Carney, Obama was scheduled to meet with Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, Eric Schmidt of Google, Drew Houston of Dropbox, Reed Hastings of Netflix, Alexander Karp of Palantir and Aaron Levie of Box.

Representatives from Linkedin and Yahoo were unable to attend the roundtable discussion  "on the issues of privacy, technology, and intelligence," National Journal reports.

Zuckerberg has been outspoken in his criticism of spying tactics employed under Obama and has urged for more transparency in the administration's online surveillance programs.

Of particular disturbance to Zuckerberg were reports that the National Security Agency had used spoof Facebook pages infected with malware to hack into computers. The NSA has denied any such practices.

"The U.S. government should be the champion for the Internet, not a threat," Zuckerberg wrote on his Facebook page.

"They need to be much more transparent about what they're doing, or otherwise people will believe the worst."

The meeting comes one week ahead of Obama's March 28 deadline for recommendations on how the Justice Department and NSA leaders can best reform current surveillance practices under the phone-data program.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the White House will consider four options for restructuring: rebuilding the program with data housed at the phone companies, housing the data at a government agency other than NSA, housing the data at a third party, or scrapping the program altogether and obtaining data though other investigative means.

In December, Obama hosted a discussion with leaders of the nation's biggest technology firms about similar privacy and surveillance issues. Although White House attempted to describe the meeting as having touched on a wide array of issues, including the botched rollout of healthcare.gov, tech representatives insisted the conversation focused on pressing limits to NSA spying.

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