With a new story concerning the extraordinary lengths the U.S. Government is seemingly taking to spy on its citizens’ digital lives hitting the news every day now, President Obama met Apple CEO Tim Cook and a number of other tech executives to discuss government surveillance.
In the wake of the NSA PRISM scandal, in which it was alleged that the U.S. government was given direct access to Apple’s servers (and, indeed, any other company’s servers) to take any data from the iCloud it wanted, President Obama has been signaling he wants to have a larger national conversation about privacy protection.
According to a Politico report, Cook was joined by AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson, Google’s chief internet evangelist Vint Cerf, and Public Knowledge president Gigi Sohn. This is how the meeting went down:
President Barack Obama hosted Apple CEO Tim Cook, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson, Google computer scientist Vint Cerf and other tech executives and civil liberties leaders on Thursday for a closed-door meeting about government surveillance, sources tell POLITICO.
The session, which Obama attended himself, followed a similar gathering earlier this week between top administration officials, tech-industry lobbyists and leading privacy hawks, the sources said. Those earlier, off-the-record discussions centered on the controversy surrounding the NSA as well as commercial privacy issues such as online tracking of consumers.
No one involved in the meetings will talk about what was discussed, but Apple has always passionately denied being involved in PRISM, and even formed an alliance with Google, Microsoft and others to provide reports to the public on information requests related to national security.
One interpretation of this meeting is that it’s in relationship to that. Apple wants to be more transparent about who in the government is asking it for data, and how much they are compelled to hand over, but right now, making that information public is against the law. Perhaps a sit-down between Tim Cook and President Obama can change that, but somehow, I doubt it.