View Count: 158 |  Publish Date: December 20, 2013
Obama won't give tech firms assurances on snooping

Technology company executives left a meeting with President Obama this week with no commitment to limit government snooping on Internet traffic, according to an industry official briefed on the session.
The group included executives from seven companies, including Marissa Mayer of Yahoo and Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook, who are pressuring the administration and Congress to restrict the National Security Agencys scooping up of their users data.Warning of backlash
Mayer, Yahoos chief executive officer and an Obama campaign donor, warned the president that backlash over U.S. spying may splinter the Internet as countries adopt different standards to thwart surveillance, according to the industry official.
Obamas relationship with Silicon Valley is being tested by the damage from disclosures by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden about the governments collection of Internet and phone data. Obama has said he wants a solution that balances national security with privacy interests of U.S. citizens. Also at stake is whether his broader policy agenda gets sidetracked by the furor over spying.
For the companies, its a matter of the bottom line.
They see real risk to their market share, said James Lewis of the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. Youve got German, Chinese even Russian companies saying Hey, buy from us, that way you wont be at risk. Its crazy. Thats what this has become - an opportunity for commercial advantage as well as an uproar over privacy.
Reports about U.S. spying abroad may cost U.S. companies as much as $35 billion in lost revenue through 2016 because of doubts about the security of their systems, according to the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation, a policy research group in Washington.Top issue
While the administrations agenda included talking about fixes made to the governments health care website and federal information technology development, Obama senior adviser Valerie Jarrett said 99 percent of the meeting was spent on discussing the NSA surveillance.
Tuesdays White House meeting occurred a day after a U.S. district judge ruled that collecting bulk phone records - such as numbers dialed and call durations - of millions of Americans is probably unconstitutional, and four days after an advisory panel gave Obama recommendations for changes.
Google Chairman Eric Schmidt discussed five principles the companies favor for changing the NSA programs, including limiting collections and being free to tell the public and their users what data the government is seeking from them.
The principles are posted on the Internet. They were part of a Dec. 9 letter to the president and members of Congress from Yahoo, Facebook, Google, Apple, Microsoft, Twitter, LinkedIn and AOL. All except AOL were represented at the meeting.
In the letter, the companies said the U.S. must ensure that government surveillance efforts are clearly restricted by law, proportionate to the risks, transparent and subject to independent oversight.No commitment
Obama didnt commit to a course of action to address the companies concerns. The White House said in a statement that the president promised to consider their input as well as the input of other outside stakeholders as we finalize our review of signals intelligence programs.In attendance
Also at the meeting, according to the White House, were: Tim Cook, CEO of Apple; Dick Costolo, chief executive officer of Twitter; Brad Smith, general counsel at Microsoft; Erika Rottenberg, vice president and general counsel of LinkedIn; Chad Dickerson, CEO of Etsy; Reed Hastings, CEO of Netflix; Drew Houston, CEO of Dropbox; Burke Norton, chief legal officer of; Mark Pincus, chairman of Zynga; Shervin Pishevar, co-CEO of Sherpa Global; Brian Roberts, CEO of Comcast; and Randall Stephenson, CEO of AT&T.
Margaret Talev and Chris Strohm are Bloomberg reporters. E-mail:,

Time: 0:29  |  News Code: 349686  |  Site: San Francisco Chronicle
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