Barack Obama is meeting with tech CEOs today to continue the discussion on a multitude of topics, including privacy, technology, and intelligence.According to a White House official, the list of those in attendance will not be provided, but taking into consideration those who attended the previous meeting, it’s pretty safe to say that Google, Facebook and Yahoo execs will be present.
While on paper the meeting will be about privacy topics, the fact is that the president will be hearing the voices of quite a few upset tech execs that find out each week new information about the efforts that the National Intelligence Agency is putting into getting their data or spying on their system admins.
It was just a few days ago, after all, that Mark Zuckerberg called Obama personally to express his discontent with one recent NSA revelation that put intelligence agents hiding their identities on the social network and spying on various individuals.
“Unfortunately, it seems like it will take a very long time for true full reform,” Zuckerberg wrote on the issue.
Back in December, another similar meeting took place and it concentrated on NSA’s mass surveillance efforts and the need for reform. Not too long after that, Obama took the stage to present the world the White House’s plans to reform the NSA.
Much to everyone’s disappointment, however, Obama’s list of reforms was shallow at best. The NSA metadata collection program would continue, but the data would no longer be held by the intelligence agency. Furthermore, the agency now needs a court order to obtain any record.
Other, much more important programs, were not mentioned at all, even though they violated the privacy of a larger number of people.
Hopefully, the current meeting will have better results. The president is expected to make an announcement soon regarding the future of the phone metadata program, especially since many voices call for the White House to put an end to it. A new set of bills should also refine existing surveillance programs such as PRISM.
The White House has so far shown a reluctance to make major changes to the NSA programs, even though a panel that the president named himself to review the agency’s programs made quite a few recommendations. The intelligence leaders have argued against most changes, saying that any alterations to their programs would put national security at risk, even though there’s no proof that a program such as the phone call metadata collection one, for instance, has helped thwart any terrorist activity.