Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, right, arrives at the White House for an Oval Office meeting with President Obama on Friday in Washington, DC. Alex Wong/Getty Images
For the second time in recent months, President Obama welcomed a cadre of tech CEOs to the White House to talk about data privacy.
“The executives — including Netflix CEO Reed Hastings and the leaders of Dropbox, Box and Palantir — joined Obama and his top cabinet officials for a discussion that stressed the 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,’ according to the White House.”
The session, Politico adds, was prompted by a public rebuke of the administration by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
As we reported, Zuckerberg said he’s been “confused and frustrated by the repeated reports of the behavior of the US government.” He was obviously referring to the stories that stem from documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.
A Facebook spokeswoman said Zuckerberg took his concerns about government surveillance directly to Obama today.
The spokeswoman said the two men had “an honest talk about government intrusion on the Internet and the toll it is taking on people’s confidence in a free and open Internet.”
To that point, it’s worth noting that a story in today’s New York Times details the monetary hit tech companies have taken. The Times reports:
“Microsoft has lost customers, including the government of Brazil.
“IBM is spending more than a billion dollars to build data centers overseas to reassure foreign customers that their information is safe from prying eyes in the United States government.
“And tech companies abroad, from Europe to South America, say they are gaining customers that are shunning United States providers, suspicious because of the revelations by Edward J. Snowden that tied these providers to the National Security Agency‘s vast surveillance program.”
It’s also worth noting that this week, the NSA’s top lawyer told the government’s civil liberties watchdog panel that his agency was collecting data with the “full knowledge and assistance of any company from which information is obtained.”