US tech executives press Obama on NSA surveillance

Washington, Dec 18: Executives of leading tech companies Tuesday pressed US President Barack Obama to “move aggressively” to scale back the National Security Agency’s electronic surveillance practice.

The executives of the high-tech companies, including Google, Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo and AT&T, met with Obama in the White House Tuesday afternoon, Xinhua reported.

“We appreciated the opportunity to share directly with the president our principles on government surveillance that we released last week and we urge him to move aggressively on reform,” the companies said in a brief joint statement after the meeting.

The meeting was an opportunity for Obama to “hear from CEOs directly” on the companies’ concerns about the intelligence programmes, as the Obama administration is near completion of a review of the programs, said the White House in a released statement.

“The President made clear his belief in an open, free, and innovative internet and listened to the group’s concerns and recommendations, and made clear that we will consider their input, as well as the input of other outside stakeholders as we finalize our review of signals intelligence programs,” said the White House.

The White House tried to highlight the meeting as a chance for the president to talk about improving the performance and capacity of the Healthcare.gov, a key online marketplace for the health care overhaul, particularly after its error-ridden rollout.

Obama also announced that Kurt Delbene, who most recently served as president of the Microsoft Office Division, will succeed Jeff Zients to lead the efforts to improve the Healthcare.gov website.

Earlier this month, eight leading US tech companies, including Google and Facebook, banded together for damage control and regaining consumer trust, asking the US government to limit its data snooping programs in an open letter.

The tech companies have been under fire for their roles in the NSA’s surveillance programmes, following the leaks of former defense contractor Edward Snowden in June.

IANS