A group of technology executives across the telecommunications space, including those from AT&T (NYSE: T) and Comcast (Nasdaq: CMCSA) were not about to be put off message during a meeting with President Barack Obama. Electronic surveillance, not healthcare, was their primary concern, they said.
"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," the group, which also included execs from Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL), Google (Nasdaq: GOOG), Yahoo (Nasdaq: YHOO), Netflix (Nasdaq: NFLX), Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT), Twitter, Facebook and others, said in a statement released after the meeting.
The tech leaders also emphasized that spying programs were damaging their international reputations and could potentially harm the U.S. economy. They also demanded to know what information the National Security Administration (NSA) is gathering overseas in its pursuit of terrorism suspects, according to the Washington Post.
Obama had called the group together to discuss surveillance issues--especially in light of a federal judge's ruling that the NSA had overstepped its bounds and potentially violated the Fourth Amendment by gathering information from Americans' phone records.
That issue, too, remained hot. In separate activity yesterday, Caroline Krass, Obama's nominee to be chief legal counsel to the CIA, told a Senate hearing that she had a "different view about the Fourth Amendment" and that there is "not a reasonable expectation of privacy in telephony metadata," according to a story in Zeebiz.com.
As for the tech leaders, they were supposed to discuss ways to help the government avoid problems such as those experienced during the launch of Healthcare.gov. Instead, they focused on the NSA and surveillance during a meeting an anonymous senior administration official told Zeebiz was "not at all contentious."
The Post offered up a different scenario.
Most companies in the room wanted to know what was going on with the spying and "they did so loudly," a U.S. official told the Post.
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