President Barack Obama hosted a group of high-profile technology executives at the White House on Tuesday as he grapples with growing unrest over the National Security Agency’s massive domestic surveillance operations.
The two-hour meeting came a week after major tech companies blasted the NSA’s spying efforts as violating their customers’ privacy — and a day after a federal court ruled at least one NSA program is likely unconstitutional.
“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,” the White House said in a statement. “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 finalize our review of signals intelligence programs.”
White House aides shuttled the executives into and out of the West Wing out of view of the assembled reporters waiting to ask questions about the NSA programs. The technology executives released a joint statement thanking the president for his time, and applying pressure on him to reform the surveillance programs.
“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.
Last week, Obama’s Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies presented the president with a report laying out more than 40 recommendations to reform the surveillance programs. The White House says it is currently reviewing the recommendations, and will release them in January.
The executives and the president also discussed troubles with the HealthCare.gov website and issues with federal information technology procurement that may have contributed to issues with the website.
The list of executives at the meeting:
· Tim Cook, CEO, Apple
· Dick Costolo, CEO, Twitter
· Chad Dickerson, CEO, Etsy
· Reed Hastings, Co-Founder & CEO, Netflix
· Drew Houston, Founder & CEO, Dropbox
· Marissa Mayer, President and CEO, Yahoo!
· Burke Norton, Chief Legal Officer, Salesforce
· Mark Pincus, Founder, Chief Product Officer & Chairman, Zynga
· Shervin Pishevar, Co-Founder & Co-CEO, Sherpa Global
· Brian Roberts, Chairman & CEO, Comcast
· Erika Rottenberg, Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary, LinkedIn
· Sheryl Sandberg, COO, Facebook
· Eric Schmidt, Executive Chairman, Google
· Brad Smith, Executive Vice President and General Counsel, Microsoft
· Randall Stephenson, Chairman & CEO, AT&T