$FB, Mark Zuckerberg: Obama Actions On NSA Spying Not Enough

Posted by: : Paul EbelingPosted on: March 24, 2014 $FB, Mark Zuckerberg: Obama Actions On NSA Spying Not Enough

$FB, Mark Zuckerberg: Obama Actions On NSA Spying Not Enough

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Facebook Inc.’s (NASDAQ:FB) CEO Mark Zuckerberg left a meeting with US President Barack Hussein Obama unsatisfied with his assurances that the government can protect privacy while continuing surveillance.

Mr. Zuckerberg and 5 other Internet and technology executives were invited to the White House Friday to discuss National Security Agency (NSA)  spying following revelations the agency may have infected millions of computers globally with malware to advance surveillance.

“While the US government has taken helpful steps to reform its surveillance practices, these are simply not enough,” Facebook said in a statement released after the meeting. “People around the globe deserve to know that their information is secure and Facebook will keep urging the US government to be more transparent about its practices and more protective of civil liberties.”

Facebook, Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) and Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) are among the companies that have been pressing the administration to restrain spying following revelations about the extent of NSA surveillance and data collection by fugitive former contractor Edward Snowden. The NSA’s global sweep also has drawn protest from other nations, including NATO ally Germany.

Mr. Obama has said his administration already ended some of the surveillance practices disclosed by Edward Snowden and in January promised further restraints while defending spying as a bulwark against terrorism.

At the meeting, Mr. Obama told the executives he wants to balance security needs with online privacy, updating them on changes made since his 17 January  directive and about a review on so-called big data being conducted by adviser John Podesta, according to a White House statement released after the meeting.

Mr. Obama told them he is committed 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 statement.

Mr. Zuckerberg was joined at the meeting by Eric Schmidt, Google’s executive chairman, and CEOs Reed Hastings of Netflix Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX), Drew Houston of Dropbox Inc., Alex Karp of Palantir Technologies Inc. and Aaron Levie of Box Inc., according to the White House.

Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ:YHOO) Chief Executive Officer Marissa Mayer was invited to attend the meeting, she declined because she could not make it on short notice. The company will remain part of the discussions going forward, according to a company spokeswoman. Microsoft Corp.(NASDAQ:MSFT), LinkedIn Corp. (NYSE:LNKD) and Twitter Inc. (NYSE:TWTR)  also were not represented because their CEO’s could not make it.

The meeting was arranged after Mr. Zuckerberg said he called Mr. Obama to express his frustration over the government’s spying.

“The US government should be the champion for the Internet, not a threat,” Mr. Zuckerberg wrote in a 13 March post on his Facebook page. “They need to be much more transparent about what they’re doing, or otherwise people will believe the worst.”

Mr. Zuckerberg’s comments followed reports that the NSA may have infected computers with malware and disguised itself as a Facebook server to gain access to users’ data for spying, according to documents leaked by former government contractor Edward Snowden to the online news site The Intercept.

The meeting also preceded a 28 March deadline under which Mr. Obama is seeking recommendations to end the NSA’s collection of bulk phone records.

Internet companies are closely watching what Mr.Obama decides to do about the collection of bulk phone records, because the spying is done under a broad authority that could also include the interception of Internet data.

Stay tuned…

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Paul Ebeling

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Paul Ebeling

Pattern Recognition Analyst, equities, commodities, forex
Paul Ebeling is best known for his work as writer and publisher of “The Red Roadmaster’s Technical Report” on the US Major Market Indices™, a highly-regarded, weekly financial market letter, where he enjoys an international audience among opinion makers, business leaders, and respected organizations. Something of a pioneer in online stock market and commodities discussion and analysis, Ebeling has been online since 1994. He has studied and worked in the global financial and stock markets since 1984.
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