President Obama met with several top figures in the tech world including Apple CEO Tim Cook and internet pioneer (and Google VP) Vint Cerf on Thursday to discuss government surveillance, reports Politico. The meeting reportedly follows a similar gathering earlier this week including members of the administration, tech lobbyists like Tech America, and privacy activists including the ACLU and EPIC. Politico writes that the earlier talks centered on both the controversy surrounding the NSA and online tracking, but doesn’t offer any specifics about the later session.
"One of a number of discussions the administration is having."
An unnamed administration aide described the meeting earlier this week as "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."
Soon after the initial discovery of widespread NSA phone and internet surveillance programs affecting US citizens, the president launched a PR campaign, both insisting that Congress had been regularly informed of the programs’ existence, and saying that he welcomes public discussion of the issues at hand. Those issues came to a head recently when a bill to rein in the NSA's phone metadata surveillance program was narrowly shot down in Congress. Unfortunately, we won't know what was said at this new spate of meetings; the discussions were private, and neither the White House nor the organizations involved have commented on the report.