Apple CEO, President Obama meet to discuss tech surveillance

Apple CEO, President Obama meet to discuss tech surveillance

Summary: Apple CEO Tim Cook, together with other tech chiefs, met with U.S. President Obama for a secret meeting to discuss technological surveillance.


U.S. President Barack Obama met with a number of tech figures Thursday to discuss the future of technology and its role in surveillance.

According to Politico, anonymous sources say the meeting was a closed-door affair, following a similar, off-the-record meeting between U.S. administrators, lobbyists and leading privacy campaigners. Both secretive meetings focused on the NSA controversy, as well as more broad issues -- including the online tracking of consumer behaviour and patterns.

Apple CEO Tim Cook, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson and Google computer scientist Vint Cerf were present at Thursday's gathering. In addition, other unnamed tech executives and civil liberty leaders attended.

Governmental surveillance practices have come to the forefront due to the revelations of ex-National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden. The NSA surveillance program mines data and catalogues information from computer networks worldwide, and is not simply limited to American citizens. PRISM and Boundless Informant are two examples of how data is collected.

The government is said to have collected almost three billion pieces of intelligence from U.S. computer networks in a single month this year -- and indexed almost 100 billion pieces of data worldwide.

President Obama has defended the controversial program, and has attempted to reassure the American public that "nobody is listening to your phone calls," but the revelations have sparked debate worldwide over how far governments should be able to spy on citizens.

A public debate has been promised amid NSA criticism; some organizations going so far as to close down their services to protect consumers from U.S. surveillance. Before the topic enters the public arena, however, the White House has met quietly with industry experts first.

On Tuesday, U.S. officials met with representatives of the Information Technology Industry Council, TechNet and TechAmerica, which collectively represent companies including Facebook, Google and Yahoo!, according to the publication's sources.

One unnamed official commented:

"This is one of a number of discussions the administration is having with experts and stakeholders in response to the president's directive to have a national dialogue about how to best protect privacy in a digital era, including how to respect privacy while defending our national security."

Topics: Apple, Government US, Security

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  • National Conversation?

    Question. Since when is a few privacy advocates and tech CEOs in a private meeting with the president considered a "national conversation"? Sorry but we already have a word for "national conversation". It's called democracy, another synonym would be elections. It's a shame that Obama's in his second term because this rather leaves him exempt from elections, except for voting people in with the gonads to impeach. Now there's a national conversation worth having.
    Malyndra Crow
    • technical surveillance snowden

      hy i am german and y just can say: "snowden tell us more about at home"

      we have in Germany as well this USA-americain Facebook and they are sending me each week a email with which they ask me if y know this or that Person ore Group in order to get a more dense overview about who knows who. maybe this USA-americain NSA-Organisation ordered Facebook to do so. I find this hounding really exagerated so that I considered to get ride of this Facebook accout and this Google search engine and this Windows Software and Substitute it by german resources.
  • Notional security

    75 characters is not sufficient.
    integrity, power, privacy, secrecy, security, waking up
  • I suspect it will be similar to his closed door meeting

    with various banks who didn't want to take bailout money. He was reported to have said: "I'm the only thing standing between you and the pitchforks."

    That is the sort of thuggish behavior community organizers do, so I fully believe it to be accurate. And I'm positive the same thuggery is going to get dished out to Tim Cook et al.
  • scratch my back I'll scratch yours?

    Obama vetoes the ban on apple products. Apple CEO visits the white house. What will apple have to give Obama for that one?
    • Great point

      The timing is suspect
  • Seriously?

    He met with "stakeholders?" That's such B.S. The largest stakeholder in this mess is the American public. They -should- be scared of mobs and pitchforks. They are putting their own interests above ours.

    The people in Washington, D.C. need to be reminded that THEY are not the nation. We are the nation. They are merely employees of the nation. When they say "national security," what they really mean is "government security" which involves covering up their own nefarious misdeeds. The government should never be secure from the people who hired them. We need to put a stop to their illegal and immoral activities in the name of "national security." The only way we'll regain the respect of the world is if we stop our government's worldwide abuses of power.
    • You're not the only ones.

      We've got the same (serious) problem in the UK. Though one could say - more so.

      Every major town has CCTV, so you can't walk down the street without being monitored. All in the name of security. I'm told (though don't know if it's true), we have more CCTV cameras per square mile than anywhere else on earth!

      I've no doubt, our own GCHQ is collaborating with your lot, in addition to operating it's own agenda.

      This is surveillance gone mad and if there were any proof terrorists have won, this is it. They've got us all tied up in knots!

      The one person to who we should all be extremely grateful, Edward Snowden, is holed up in Moscow terrified of his future. The guy should be made a saint, not hounded by questionable (and mostly dishonourable) politicians and (so called) security services.

      We probably all guessed this sort of thing happens: what we didn't know prior to Edward's revelations, was the extent.

      Our so called "free countries" are not free any more.
      • CCTV

        But, aren't you proud that your government has contributed to the mass production, lower prices, improvement etc of CCTV cameras? :-)
  • War Criminal meets Ripoff Artist

    This has a high potential for finding more ways to screw Americans out of their money and their freedom.
  • No Shame

    These guys are so bold and brazen and they have no shame or conscience. Just a few days ago the Obama AH pardoned a product import ban for Apple, against Samsung. One that Samsung had won fair and square, and paid all the legal costs etc. Now these two AHs are sitting down together, and think that anyone is too stupid to notice, the blatant conflict of interest. A president no less. Then FH wonders why the rest of the world hates them.
  • Most Voters Want it Both Ways

    If the voters who are now yelling about Obama being "in charge" (to the extent that ANY President can be in charge) of the surveillance machine had yelled about it when Bush first got the PATRIOT Act passed, I would be more impressed with their intellectual honesty. We have had a military-espionage-industrial complex since World War II, and it seems to have had control over even those Presidents who were hostile to its excesses, and been a boon to those Presidents who thought like them. Some have even suggested that JFK was killed because he (1) turned down Operation Northwoods in 1962, in which OUR agents disguised as Cubans would carry out hijackings and other terrorist attacks in order to frame Castro and attack Cuba, and/or (2) was about to wind down involvement in Vietnam.

    The truth is, if our government respected our privacy more, and refrained from military adventures not needed to defend our country, there MIGHT be more terrorist attacks in the short run, but we would stop "breeding" the next generation of terrorists to attack us in the long run (for example, what would Iran be like today if we had not overthrown its elected government and installed the Shah in 1953?). To most voters, the short run is what matters; we would "like" the government not to spy on us, BUT we absolutely FORBID our government not to protect us effectively from "those" people, which REQUIRES it to spy on us. If a major attack like 9/11 happened again, these same voters who do not like "Obama spying" today, and most of the Congresspeople they elected, would blame him for NOT spying enough to prevent the attack.

    And as for protecting us, consider this: 30 million Americans are about to have the chance to buy health insurance at reasonable cost who currently could not get it at ANY price; of those 30 million, about 45,000 a year have DIED because they could not get some life-saving operation or treatment. That is equivalent to 15 attacks of a 9/11 scale EVERY year. But the same party that brought us the PATRIOT Act (and its legal AND financial excesses) has made it their PRIMARY GOAL to stop those 30 million from getting insurance, and thus to stop those 45,000 lives a year from being saved, EVEN at the cost of shutting down the ENTIRE government and/or bringing down the US credit rating.

    Besides, look at the bright side: if you lose your email archive, just ask the NSA to restore it from their backup!