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March 21, 2014

Obama Meets With Zuckerberg, Other Tech Chiefs

Facebook CEO Expresses Disappointment Over Lack of Progress on Surveillance Reforms

A meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama to discuss government surveillance has left Facebook’s CEO dissatisfied with efforts to reform the National Security Agency.

Mark Zuckerberg, along with Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings and three others, met with the president to discuss their concerns about user privacy.

And although the White House and technology leaders alike have divulged little about the meeting, Zuckerberg did make his feelings known through a spokesperson.

“While the U.S. government has taken helpful steps to reform its surveillance practices, these are simply not enough,” a Facebook spokesperson said following the meeting. “People around the globe deserve to know that their information is secure and Facebook will keep urging the U.S. government to be more transparent about its practices and more protective of civil liberties.”

The meeting, which began at 4 p.m., ran for more than two hours, according to media reports.

During that time, Obama sought to reassure the tech leaders that the administration is working on the implementation of reforms to intelligence gathering.

“The president reiterated his administration’s commitment to taking steps that can give people greater confidence that their rights are being protected while preserving important tools that keep us safe,” the White House said in a press statement.

An industry source told Reuters invitations to the meeting with Obama were received March 15 — that is just two days after Zuckerberg called Obama to express his disappointment over the snail-like progress being made on the reform of government surveillance.

The Facebook CEO placed the call just one day after it came to light — courtesy of documents from whistleblower Edward Snowden — that the NSA is masquerading as Facebook to trick its targets into downloading malicious code that grants the agency access to the computer hard drives of its targets.

Following his conversation with Obama, Zuckerberg aired his frustrations in a post on his Facebook page, saying he has been “confused and frustrated by the repeated reports of the behavior of the U.S. government.”

“I’ve called President Obama to express my frustration over the damage the government is creating for all of our future,” he wrote. “Unfortunately, it seems like it will take a very long time for true full reform.”

Zuckerberg, for the past six months, has been vocal in his displeasure with the government’s spying activities.

His company is part of an alliance — dubbed the Reform Government Surveillance group — along with other major tech players such as Google, Yahoo, Apple, Microsoft, Twitter, LinkedIn and AOL.

The coalition has penned multiple letters to Congress and the White House demanding reform and increased transparency. The group also launched a website devoted to the reform of government surveillance across the globe.


Jennifer Cowan is the Managing Editor for SiteProNews.