Obama tries to reassure tech CEOs on NSA, privacy

President Barack Obama today met with the chief executive officers of several leading technology firms to discuss major technology policy issues from health care to Internet privacy and security.

Executives from some of the nation’s largest technology companies, including Google, Facebook, Twitter, Microsoft and Yahoo, among others, met with Obama and Vice President Joe Biden in the Roosevelt Room to exchange ideas on improving the capabilities and capacity of, streamlining the federal IT procurement process and the economic impact stemming from the revelations of NSA electronic eavesdropping around the world.

“This was an opportunity for the president to hear from CEOs directly as we near completion of our review of signals intelligence programs, building on the feedback we’ve received from the private sector in recent weeks and months,” the White House said in a 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.”

2013_08_Edward_Snowden-2 Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. (Photo: Praxis Films)

Many of the companies attending the meeting have urged the administration to impose greater restrictions on NSA and have warned that the government’s data surveillance programs may make it more difficult for U.S. technology firms to compete in the global marketplace.

The companies are required by law to turn over data to the government when presented with a valid court order. But they are also barred from discussing the requests or even acknowledging the existence of such requests publicly.

Documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden have revealed the existence of a massive data and telephone metadata collection effort involving millions of Americans. Several Internet companies have announced plans to encrypt their data links in an effort to reassure users of the privacy of their personal communications and browsing history.

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