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Major tech and social media CEOs confront Obama on NSA spying

NSA Surveillance

WASHINGTON (AP) - A week before a self-imposed deadline for a review of National Security Agency programs, President Barack Obama sought Friday to assure leading Internet and tech executives that his administration is committed to protecting people's privacy.

CEOs from Facebook, Google, Netflix and others spent more than two hours with Obama in the Oval Office discussing their concerns about NSA spying programs, which have drawn outrage from tech companies whose data have been scooped up by the government. Joining Obama and the CEOs were Obama's commerce secretary, homeland security adviser, and counselor John Podesta, whom Obama has tasked with leading a review of privacy and "big data."

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his colleagues departed the White House without speaking to reporters. The White House said Obama gave the CEOs an update on the big data review, which is examining the complex and evolving relationship between the government, its citizens and their private information.

"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 statement.

Separate from the big data review, Obama in January directed the government to develop and present alternatives for who should store the phone records from hundreds of millions of Americans that the NSA holds. Obama gave the Justice Department until March 28 to report back, with an eye toward eventually stripping the massive data collection from the government's hands.

That review and other limits on secret spying were prompted by disclosures from former NSA systems analyst Edward Snowden that enraged Internet companies like Google when it was alleged that the NSA had secretly tapped into the main communications links that connect Yahoo and Google data centers around the world.

In the lead-up to Friday's meeting, Zuckerberg took to his own Facebook page to strongly condemn Obama's administration for its secret spying tactics, following reports that the NSA had once used spoofs of the social network to infect computers with malware.

Facebook said Zuckerberg raised his concerns directly to Obama on Friday and was grateful for his personal engagement. In a statement, the company called it an "honest talk" about government intrusion and its toll on people's confidence that the Internet is free and open.

"While the U.S. government has taken helpful steps to reform its surveillance practices, these are simply not enough," said Facebook spokeswoman Jodi Seth.

Google recently enhanced the encryption technology for its flagship email service to make it harder for the NSA to intercept messages moving among the company's data centers. Yahoo has promised similar steps.

Representatives for Google and Netflix declined to comment on Friday's meeting. Also attending the session were Reed Hastings of Netflix and Drew Houston of the file storage site Dropbox.


Associated Press writer Marcy Gordon contributed to this report.

Reach Josh Lederman on Twitter at http://twitter.com/joshledermanAP

Join the discussion

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ssrapp March 22 2014 at 9:36 AM

what is the problem.... This is the MOST open administration EVER..........!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
The emporer said it would be..!!

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1 reply
Roberta ssrapp March 22 2014 at 10:22 AM

It surely tops GW Bush!

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1 reply
Carolyn Roberta March 22 2014 at 10:51 PM

LOLOL If all else fails, blame Bush. No one believes that anymore. No one believes that Obama is hated because of his race. Try something else in the lib bag of tricks.

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Harry and Linda March 22 2014 at 11:28 AM

Never once did Obama say that he would direct all agencies from spying on private citizens.
Every day it seems to me that we are dealing with an American KGB or SS.

How have we come to this and more important, why? Don't try to stuff me with the crap that it is for the protection of the American people. Who is behind the take over of America? Why are our politicians (all of them, both parties) allowing this to happen? It scare Hell out of me. Forget about the lame stream press bringing this out, They are the tools of the purveyor.

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declutch March 22 2014 at 11:33 AM

Is this what people voted for, a President who embraces spying on everyone, including Senators and Common Citizens alike, with the excuse that it is necessary? Necessary for whom, the IRS and for Political protection and gain?

Is spying on Political Party Leaders legal (Feinstein, etc., no)?

Is spying on innocent Citizens legal (no)?

Why does anyone give this President's Administration a pass on this disregard for privacy?

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2 replies
sk3navy1 declutch March 22 2014 at 11:39 AM

declutch, This is mob tactics.

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Dr. Cal Harris declutch March 22 2014 at 11:50 AM

I assure you that some word-search program has picked up on this discussion page and is analyzing positive correlations between certain people's comments and current ruler's agenda.

I really hope folks make educated choices next election and not believe illusions created by the mega-wealthy entertainment types that took a completely unknown person like Obama and thrust him forward as a solution to our eroding economy and culture. Many of us tried researching who he was and what his qualifications really are and could find nothing. Having said that, there was lots to find on McCain and Palin that made them look like horrible candidates. What to do? Don't vote or vote against McCain and Palin???

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Winky Eye March 22 2014 at 11:33 AM

The president says they are taking steps to make sure that our rights are being protected while doing this? Are you kidding me? This is from the administration that says we currently have 6 million signed on for the ACA and that is good. When we know that over half of those signed up are the ones that lost their insurance because of the ACA. Remember folks, and don't lose sight of the fact that this man was voted as telling the years biggest wopper just last year. Where's the morality from these people? Someone tell me, quick cause I don't see it...

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1 reply
Carolyn Winky Eye March 22 2014 at 7:18 PM

Nor will you ever see it.

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jsbseven March 22 2014 at 11:35 AM

yea they can get out of our white house and take all their people with them so we can put things back the way they were before o

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fouracrerf March 22 2014 at 11:37 AM

Can we believe, Anything, this Administration says? REALLY???

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billcdaly March 22 2014 at 11:37 AM

Tell a lie long enough and with enough force, pretty soon it becomes truth.
Sorry but this independent thinks that this POTUS has lost all credibility.
In the long run, the terrorists have won so far, considering the lives lost, money spent,
and freedoms trampled upon.

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vtmilitia March 22 2014 at 11:38 AM

!984 has arrived, albeit a tad late, government is taking over control of personal choices, O'BamaCare, progressives are disarming individuals at the state levels, Connecticut registration and seizure policies, N.Y. "safe act". The sheeple will do as told and the remaining individuals who resist will be made into criminals therefore eligible for removal from society. This message was not NSA approved.

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rcpaf83 March 22 2014 at 11:38 AM

There is a way to stop all the internet spying, but none of you will participate !!! GET OFF OF AND STOP USING THE INTERNET !!!! IF you don't then you have NO COMPLAINT !!! STFU !!! and stop whining... YOU are your own worst enemy !!!! "They" own the systems and will do whatever they choose with the data on those sites....

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1 reply
eaglesnestresort rcpaf83 March 22 2014 at 12:00 PM

Truer words were never said - and then they win totally their ability to keep
us from being informed and able to unite.

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Brad March 22 2014 at 11:39 AM

You have to Sign In first to leave a comment.thing over with Obama , might as well be talking to aq wall. He will tell you anything you want here and then do what ever he wants to do. And thats why he is the laughing stock of the world and especially Mr.Putin. Putin has no fear of us, with the leader we have we would lose our butts if a conflict would accure. Obama can draw as many lines in the sand as he wants, nobody is listenin. Say what you want about any other President, this willo be our last black president I bet?

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2 replies
verbal007 Brad March 22 2014 at 11:51 AM

Leader, we have a leader ? "Hope and Change".............LOL

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eaglesnestresort Brad March 22 2014 at 11:59 AM

Black, white or whatever (and he isn't even "black", which everyone seems to ignore),
may he be the last incompetent, bogus, evil President we have. Unfortunately, the
way he is taking us, he may be the last actual President the US has. In his plan, I am
sure, the US will become one with the single world order thereby making it no longer
a soverign country at all.

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1 reply
Carolyn eaglesnestresort March 22 2014 at 7:15 PM

Yes. IMO a country without borders is not a country at all. He will do away with our southern border.
Then all of those who enter illegally will be able to vote for democrats forever.

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