Mark Zuckerberg, Eric Schmidt, and Other Tech Executives Huddle with President Obama Over NSA Reform

The meeting was in part prompted by Zuckerberg’s public rebuke of the administration. | Getty Read more:
The meeting was in part prompted by Zuckerberg’s public rebuke of the administration. | Getty 

Google’s Eric Schmidt, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and other top tech executives are huddling Friday with President Barack Obama to discuss surveillance, just days after Zuckerberg slammed the White House for working too slowly on NSA reform.

The executives — including Netflix CEO Reed Hastings and the leaders of Dropbox, Box and Palantir — are joining Obama to “continue his dialogue … on the issues of privacy, technology, and intelligence,” according to an administration official. It marks the second time in about four months that the White House has invited major technology CEOs to Washington to talk about the issue.

The meeting was in part prompted by Zuckerberg’s public rebuke of the administration, multiple sources said. The Facebook CEO in a post last week revealed he had called Obama to express “frustration over the damage the government” has caused the industry. Zuckerberg offered that fiery statement following a report that the NSA had been impersonating Facebook’s webpages in order to infect targets with malicious software.

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Facebook and others attending the meeting Friday did not immediately return a request for comment.

The brewing debate over NSA surveillance — and the U.S. government’s relationship with tech companies — have caused business headaches for the industry’s biggest names. In the aftermath of Edward Snowden’s leaks, some foreign countries and companies have grown wary of working with Silicon Valley. And U.S. tech giants fear that Europe, Brazil, India and other major markets could penalize them with trade restrictions, including laws requiring companies to store data in countries where customers reside.

“In response to the NSA disclosures, there has been an acceleration across the globe of economically harmful policies,” said Dean Garfield, president of the Information Technology Industry Council. Garfield isn’t attending the White House meeting, but said it’s “imperative that Congress and the administration show their leadership by helping to repair trust” in the sector, particularly through more transparency and oversight.

Dropbox CEO Drew Houston, Palantir CEO Alexander Karp and Box CEO Aaron Levie, as well as Schmidt and Zuckerberg are due to attend the Friday meeting, the White House confirmed. The meeting is set to begin after 4 p.m.

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Source: Politico | TONY ROMM

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