Obama to meet with tech execs about NSA spying

Edward Snowden speaking during his dinner with a group of four retired US ex-intelligence workers and activists at a luxurious room in an unidentified location. Snowden warned of dangers to democracy in the first video released of the fugitive since Russia granted him temporary asylum in August.

President Obama is meeting with tech industry leaders this morning. One of the big issues on the table is the National Security Agency’s big surveillance program. A federal judge just ruled that some of the government’s practices were probably in violation of the Constitution. The executives Obama is meeting with today, including Eric Schmidt from Google and Sheryl Sandberg from Facebook, have publicly called on the government to scale back its data collection.

“Pot, meet kettle,” says tech analyst Laura Didio. She says although these companies are also collecting our data, it doesn’t compare to the scale of what the government is doing.

“The NSA is 8 times bigger than the CIA,” Didio says. “The NSA’s secrets have secrets.”

Now tech companies are worried that concerns about government spying could rub off on their bottom lines. “If the U.S. is simply going to camp out on every server of every social network, you’re going to see a real chilling of relationships between the consumer and the networks, says Will Riegel, with Point3 Consulting.

“That starts costing a significant amount of money,” Riegel says.

Riegel says companies like Facebook, Google, Twitter and Apple are worried about seeming too welcoming of government surveillance. They’re also aware that any regulations that come out of the NSA scandal could affect their own data collection practices. 

About the author

Stacey Vanek Smith is a senior reporter for Marketplace, where she covers banking, consumer finance, housing and advertising.

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