Leaders of some of the world’s biggest tech companies including Twitter, Google and Apple met with president Obama on Tuesday to discuss their concerns about the PRISM spying revelations that have come to light this year.
The meeting was billed by the White House as a chance to discuss numerous tech issues including the flawed Healthcare.gov website, but the tech leaders were only there to discuss surveillance issues, the Guardian quoted one executive as saying.
“That is not going to happen,” they said. “We are there to talk about the NSA.”
The tech leaders issued a joint statement that called on Obama to make sure surveillance oversights are reformed.
"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," they said in a widely reported statement.
The White House also issued a statement, acknowledging the importance of ensuring the internet remains a protected sphere.
“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,” it said.
“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 finalise our review of signals intelligence programs.”
Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, chief operating officer of Facebook Sheryl Sandberg and Dropbox founder and chief Drew Houston were also in attendance.
The tech industry has been outraged since the news of mass survelliance broke earlier in the year and firms have been using their collective might to put pressure on the government to change the way data on citizens is gathered.
Earlier this week a US judge branded spying as Orwellian, and added that the US government had failed to prove that it had directly helped to stop any terrorist attack.
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